German envoy to Ethiopia passes away
Following the passing on Monday of Joachim Schmidt, Germany’s ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union, his family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues are remembering and paying tribute to a veteran and well-regarded international public servant.
According to a statement released by the Embassy of Germany in Addis Ababa, the 62-year old diplomat, following a stroke on May 21, was flown to Germany for medical care, but later died at a German hospital.
“Joachim was the ultimate professional, generous and he was always there for his colleagues. He was very active within the EU community,” Ranieri Sabatucci, head of the delegation of the European Union to the African Union, told The Reporter. “He had a strong demeanor about him, coupled with an exceptional personality,” he said.
The ambassador was born on February 27, 1955 in Wuppertal, Germany. He studied economics, history and International relations in the United States. He started his career with the state bank of Hessen and joined the Foreign Ministry of Germany in 1984.
For Peter H. Vrooman, US Embassy chargé d’Affaires, the passing of his colleague is a terrible loss. “We came to Ethiopia around the same time, were introduced at an art gallery in 2014 and we became fast friends,” he said. “He had a wonderful personality, and along with his wife, was advocate of music and the arts.”
During his diplomatic career, the late envoy traveled the world representing Germany in different capacities and roles. He made lots of impression wherever he went as he became a noted advocate for a number of worthy causes. His wisdom and friendship was valued by the tight-knit diplomatic community in Addis Ababa.
“It is with the deepest sorrow that we have learnt that our colleague and dear friend, Ambassador Joachim Schmidt passed away,” Jan Sadek, Ambassador of Sweden, said. “Our thoughts are with Joachim’s wife, Barbara, and the rest of his family as well as his colleagues in the German Embassy in Addis Ababa.”
In the course of his diplomatic service, Ambassador Schmidt had many assignments, including one that took him to New Delhi. Indian Ambassador to Ethiopia Anurag Srivastava was quick to remember the late ambassador. “Because he was stationed in India early on in his career, we connected rather quickly,” he told The Reporter. “It was always a joy to meet him as he was full of life. I particularly remember his gracious hospitality during the event organized by him at his residence as part of the German National Day celebrations. His death is a great shock to all of us who knew him.”
The late ambassador hit a milestone in his career in 1999 when he was appointed chargé d’Affaires and later ambassador to Belarus. In 2002, he returned home, serving as head of division and head of inspection within the ministry. In 2008, he was appointed ambassador to Sarajevo. In 2011, he was back home serving as head of a department with the German foreign service.
In August 2014, he was appointed ambassador to Ethiopia and the African Union.
In Ethiopia, he became an advocate for the arts and for the destitute. He visited many parts of the country, and witnessed first-hand the plight of drought victims and the disadvantaged.
In April 2017, he accompanied a delegation from the German Ministry of Development Cooperation on a visit to the drought-affected Somali region, along with Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF representative to Ethiopia, and the late envoy was on the stage when the minister announced an aid package the following day.
He was seen as a passionate and important partner of UNICEF.
“Ambassador Schmidt was a very close partner to UNICEF Ethiopia and shared UNICEF’s commitment to children and women in Ethiopia, in particular the most vulnerable,” UNICEF Ethiopia said in a statement sent to The Reporter. “The ambassador’s interest in Ethiopia and the country’s people was genuine and driven by his passion for bringing about positive change for the world’s less fortune people. UNICEF Ethiopia has fond memories of its joint field visits with the Ambassador to various parts of the country where his curious and open mind inspired the people he met,” the statement added.
He was most recently with Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at the headquarters of the African Union (AU), helping promote a new initiative and engagement with the continent.
The chairperson of the AU, Moussa Faki Mahamat, expressed “profound sadness” at his death and alluded to his “remarkable contribution in the strengthening [of] the relationship between Germany and the African Union.”
“In this very sad circumstance, words cannot be enough to express our sorrow,” his colleague and Italian ambassador, Giuseppe Mistretta, told The Reporter. “The staff of the Italian Embassy shares the same feelings of loss and sadness,” he said.
Ambassador Schmidt is survived by his wife.