“Ministry is unique and cannot be found anywhere else”
On his first trip to Ethiopia as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at the US Department of State, Tibor Nagy paid a brief visit to Ethiopia’s new Ministry of Peace and held talks with Muferiyat Kamil, the Minister in charge, on November 30, 2018.
Nagy, who has served as US Ambassador to Ethiopia from 1999 to 2002, during which he was credited to have helped in preventing famine in Ethiopia and end the Ethio- Eritrean war, had received medals from the State Department for his years’ of service in the diplomatic realm.
He came back to Ethiopia this week as part of his Africa tour where he was scheduled to visit Djibouti, Eritrea, Kenya and Stuttgart Germany, where the US Department of Defense African Command (AFRICOM) is headquartered.
Speaking to The Reporter after his meeting with Muferiyat, Nagy said, “I am here on my first trip back to Ethiopia as the current assistant secretary of state for African Affairs. And because of all the very positive changes that have been going on in Ethiopia, the US considers Ethiopia as a critically important partner not just in the region but in the whole of Africa. And we want to be as supportive as possible for these very positive developments.”
Furthermore, Nagy discussed with Muferiyat regarding the potential areas of cooperation between the two nations.
Muferiyat, on her part, told The Reporter that, “We have a shared interest of ensuring peace in Ethiopia as well as in the Horn. So, we discussed how to further strengthen the already started relationship on building and ensuring peace and security in Ethiopia.”
In a statement that it issued, US Embassy in Addis Ababa said, “Assistant Secretary Nagy expressed strong support for Ethiopia’s reform agenda and for the Ministry of Peace’s mission, and sought the Minister’s views on how the U.S. can support Ethiopia’s efforts and capacity to address ethnic conflict, youth unemployment, and other challenges as part of the United States' broad efforts to support Ethiopia’s goals of fostering an inclusive political environment, promoting rule of law, achieving broad-based economic growth, and generating jobs.”
Asked whether there is a plan to move AFRICOM HQ to Africa, a point of contention among African nations and a point of interest for many political and security analysts, Nagy said that this has to be discussed with the commander of AFRICOM.
But, the relocation of AFRICOM from Stuttgart to Africa has been a point of discussion especially in Africa for more than a decade. Some nations opposed to letting the US Army into their land while some showed willingness to cooperate.
But, AFRICOM has been among the discussions Nagy had with the Minister of Defense Aisha Mohammed and her delegation including General Thomas D. Waldhauser of U.S. Africa Command, on its part, said; “We appreciate the robust partnerships we have with our Ethiopian partners. We have common security interests, particularly focused on countering the threat of violent extremism in East Africa and ensuring stability for our partners in the region. AFRICOM is focused on strengthening mutually beneficial relationships, such as the one we have here in Ethiopia. Alongside our Department of State counterparts and our international allies, we seek to improve and expand upon these relationships to further the security, stability, and prosperity of our African partners”.
Nagy also appreciated Muferiyat’s Ministry saying it is unique and cannot be found anywhere else and that the Ministry stands for an important and central commodity for all: peace.
Nagy is also set to pay a visit to Eritrea, a country which stayed under sanctions for almost a decade and the lifting of which the Assistant Secretary has been saying untimely.
Despite his previous stand though, during his meeting with Workneh Gebeyehu (PhD), the Minister of Foreign Affairs, he “welcomed Ethiopia’s ongoing rapprochement with Eritrea and Ethiopia’s other constructive regional engagement to open the doors for trade, economic opportunity, and stability in the Horn of Africa,” according to a statement from the US Embassy.
Apart from his meeting with Muferiyat, Nagy also paid a visit to the African Union and the Ministry of Defense where he met and discussed with African Union Commission Deputy Chairperson Ambassador Kwesi Quartey and Aisha Mohammed, respectively.
During the meeting with Aisha, Nagy expressed optimism following the countries’ 8th Bilateral Defense Conference on November 15th, that Ethiopia’s reform process opens the opportunity to pursue new areas of cooperation toward a more secure region and to further build the capacity of Ethiopian military forces.