Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Striking balance between new national ambitions, cordiality

During the nation’s first of its kind diplomatic bazaar heralding at the science museum, top Ethiopian government officials, accorded with the diplomatic community in Addis, visit decorated pictures of Ethiopia’s once-towering diplomats and foreign ministers. The diplomatic exhibition has aimed at celebrating Ethiopia’s 116 old modern diplomatic journey, at the face of the region’s diplomacy languishing in disarray.

 At the event, president Sahle-Work Zewde called up on the new generation to explore further in order make their own contributions to existing and emerging diplomatic endeavors. Foreign minister and Deputy PM Demeke Mekonen reaffirmed Ethiopia’s longstanding commitment to cherishing the foundational values that binds it to other countries around the world.

It is virtuous to remember the success of past leaders for their achievements in representing Africa during the continent’s up and downs. Ethiopia’s past diplomats, ambassadors and foreign policy crafters, were sure never compromising when it comes to upholding the interests of Ethiopia’s neighbors and Africa at large.

In the past, Ethiopia outshined by harnessing and spearheading Africa’s interests too. Today, the issue of striking a balance between Ethiopia’s newly budding national interests and its own legacy in upholding regional peace-maker role, rests on the shoulder of the current missions.

Ethiopia’s national interests, unsurprisingly are spiraling and extending mainly unto the region, and beyond. From recent ambitions in sea access to BRICS, and GERD to the horn’s newly forging power alliance, Ethiopia evidently asserts vested interests.

On the balance of these emergent national interests, hangs the nation’s core foreign policy principle- which is ensuring the stability and co-existence with peer neighbor nations.

For Africa’s second largest populated nation, yet unjustly landlocked, maintaining its national interests at any cost looks justified. Nonetheless, if its neighbors are not at peace, alas, the spillover may reverse the nation’s pursuits.

Coupled with fast-changing regional and global geopolitical landscape, Ethiopia’s newly emerging national interest require employing a new army of mission carriers. In generating new breeds of diplomatic army, meritocracy cannot be optional.

Even though ‘there are no permanent friends but permanent interests’, it is needless to remind that Ethiopia is not an island in the mix of the horn’s highly interdependent political-economy.

In fact, the horn’s leaders usually tend to forge mini-power-alliances instead of standing together as a regional block. Lately, Asmara has exclusively turned into a diplomatic expressway for leaders of Somalia and Egypt. On the parallel-race is Addis, hosting leaders of Somaliland and Sudan’s once-war-crime suspect. Perplexed, IGAD and AU remain sitting over the fence. The international community is busy with each eye on Ukraine, and Gaza.

‘Who gets what’ in this tensional and transactional diplomacy of the horn region, brings win only for the chess-movers and king makers but not for the horn’s nations. As a pioneer of principled and a just diplomacy in Africa, Ethiopia can regain its path to pursue its national interests while it also can stabilize the region.

The static diplomacy of the horn region, is no more the rule of the game. But the changes are faster than the static mentalities of the horn leadership. One thing African leaders never learn from history, is the ‘divide and rule’ approach of external forces. Ultimately, national interests that do not pertain to development and wellbeing of the region, lead to demise of the region and unworthy to pursue. Yet, the development and wellbeing of the horn’s nations is interwoven; and hence, requires genuine sisterly cooperation and regional integration. A good diplomacy is the one that persuades others to compromise, without losing sight of one’s own national interest.

Of course, articulating and persistently pursuing its national interest, is a matter of survival for Ethiopia. But ensuring the cordiality and safety of its peer neighbors, is also what sustains its wellbeing in turn. It is no-more hidden that opportunistic states are on the move to grab the traces of gaps Ethiopia’s diplomacy is leaving behind. Hence, building a robust and far-sighted diplomatic shoulder is imperative to carry-on Ethiopia’s budding national interests at the face of frequently fluctuating turf wars.

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