Member States of the European Union, which will hold a meeting in the coming June, will decide on the Union’s financial and overall re-engagement with Ethiopia, after a report is presented to its members by the EU Human Rights Special Representative.
The Union’s Special Representative, Eamon Gilmore, who was in Ethiopia for three days, discussed with higher government officials, including Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy Prime Minister, Sahlework Zewdie, President of Ethiopia, Daniel Bekele (PhD), Human Rights Commissioner and other Ministers.
International organizations in Ethiopia and opposition party leaders were also part of the representatives’ discussions. The humanitarian situation in the country, the national dialogue, human rights and the issue of accountability were the main issues raised in the discussion, according to Gilmore, who gave a press briefing mid-this week.
“We have been shocked over the course of the past year and a half or more at the reports which have emerged of very serious human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law,” Gilmore said on the issue of human rights.
He asserted that even though the joint investigation by the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is supported by the Union, it is also keen to see more follow-ups done on the report, especially on the accountability of perpetrators.
Concerning the delivery of humanitarian aid, Gilmore praised the humanitarian truce reached by both warring parties but criticized the obstacles that prevent humanitarian aid from reaching its destination. Difficulties related to administrative issues and issues related to permits of EU’s people to be on the ground in particular areas are also mentioned.
“I’m hopeful that by the time the 27 foreign ministers meet in June, these problems will be resolved and able to move on,” Gilmore said.
Since the war in northern Ethiopia began, the country’s political ties with western countries have been on the rocks. The EU suspended USD 109 million in budgetary support over a lack of access to the country’s Tigray region to deliver humanitarian aid. Other development cooperation projects are also put on hold. The EU’s resolution on Ethiopia that was adopted in October 2021, include the use of sanctions.
The meeting between the 27 member states will look at the situation in Ethiopia and will decide on the whole issue of reengagement and how that might be done. Humanitarian assistance, actions taken to bring lasting peace and accountability for human rights violations are the issues that will be looked into during the meeting.
“The report that I will provide to the higher representative arising from this visit will form a part of that discussion and of that consideration. But I don’t want to prejudge what the foreign ministers will decide,” added Gilmore.