Ethiopia’s new Foreign Minister, Dr. Workneh, meets the Diplomatic Corps

Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, recently appointed Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, held a reception for the members of the Diplomatic Corps and all foreign diplomats accredited to Ethiopia on Monday, (December 5). He took the opportunity to share his thoughts on how he intended to strengthen Ethiopia's partnerships with their countries and organizations in the coming year and beyond. He quoted Prime Minister Hailemariam on the major priorities in the government's reform agenda: inclusive and equitable economic growth; dialogue; and structural transformation of the economy. These, Dr. Workneh underlined, together with Ethiopia's emphasis on regional peace and security, integration, and the deepening of democracy were the foundation of Ethiopia's diplomatic efforts.

Dr. Workneh said the challenges Ethiopia had been facing over the previous year had highlighted the vital importance of peace and the need to sustain inclusive and rapid economic growth as well as deepen democracy in the country. Diplomacy would, therefore, continue to focus on enhancing the bilateral and multilateral partnerships that were so important for the country's inclusive development, institution building and good governance agenda, an agenda based upon mutual interest and respect. He pointed out that Ethiopia had achieved almost all of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and had witnessed double-digit growth for over a decade. Despite this, a significant element of the population, especially the youth, had not benefitted sufficiently. The Government had, therefore, decided to refocus its aims to ensure no one would be left behind. That, indeed, was the core principle of the present Growth and Transformation Plan. Dr. Workneh said he was confident that Ethiopia's partners would continue to support the target of transforming Ethiopia into a middle-income country by 2025. Ethiopia and its partners had cooperated very successfully on the MDGs; it had every confidence it would be able to do the same with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Another key priority in achieving inclusive growth must be trade and investment. Dr. Workneh noted there had been an encouraging flow of foreign direct investment in recent years and he emphasized the Government was confident that the construction of more industrial parks would encourage this as well as create jobs, particularly for youngsters. It, therefore, wanted to further strengthen trade and investment exchanges with both existing and with new partners. In this context, he therefore wished to request the assistance of his listeners to encourage their nationals to continue to invest in Ethiopia.

Dr. Workneh underlined the government's firm conviction that sustainable economic growth was only possible with peace, good governance and strong democratic institutions. He reminded his listeners that Prime Minister Hailemariam had recently emphasized to the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa the importance of enhancing civic participation and institution building. These were critical for the achievement of building a free and productive citizenry. This, indeed, was why Ethiopia was determined to carry out the necessary reforms to strengthen its democratic institutions including the Election Board, the Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman and the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission as well as other bodies.

As a central element in its deep reform agenda at home, the Government would be concentrating on building partnerships at all levels to achieve peace, development and democratization, not least with its own people. It was doing this through the creation of a national consensus on the subject of poverty reduction, involving inclusive and fast growth and development, as well as democratic institution-building and good governance. Dr. Workneh emphasized that the Government believed this was critical for the achievement of sustainable peace and transformation in our country.

Ethiopia's second level of partnership was with the region and the continent. Ethiopia's commitment to regional and continental peace and prosperity emanated from its deep conviction that its own peace and prosperity could not be separated from that of the peace and prosperity of the region and the continent. Ethiopia would continue to remain totally committed to the African Union and to the successful achievement of Agenda 2063. Equally, it would remain committed to IGAD and the other Regional Economic Communities, the building blocks of continental integration. It would continue to work closely with IGAD member states and international partners to strengthen IGAD to become an effective regional body for peace and integration. Ethiopia, of course, hosts the AU and the UNECA as well as other international organizations. It would continue to do everything possible to provide proper conditions for the effective discharge of their responsibilities.

Another important level of partnership, Dr. Workneh underlined, was with bilateral and multilateral development partners. He noted that today we lived in an increasingly globalized world where collective strategies and actions were needed to address common developmental and security concerns. Ethiopia cooperated closely on a wide range of issues including peace and security. Ethiopia currently contributed the largest number of peace-keepers to UN and AU peace keeping operations, mainly in Africa. Convinced that Ethiopia's own peace was intertwined with that of Africa and the world at large, it firmly believed that global peace and security depended on collective security arrangements. Indeed, as the holder of a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council, it would work closely with all council members in addressing peace and security concerns. Dr. Workneh took the opportunity to thank all those who had voted for Ethiopia's membership of the Security Council.

In conclusion, the Foreign Minister emphasized that he strongly believed that bonds between individuals could be a key ingredient in successful diplomacy. He reiterated his commitment and readiness to work closely with all members of the Diplomatic Corps, and stressed that he counted on their support and cooperation to help him in successfully discharging his heavy responsibilities.