Statement by the High Representative/Vice-President of EU Josep Borrell on the latest developments in Ethiopia

Statement by the High Representative/Vice-President of EU Josep Borrell on the latest developments in Ethiopia
– Developments in Ethiopia are a cause of deep concern.
– All parties as well as Ethiopia’s neighbors must act to reduce tension.
– Eliminate inflammatory language, and abstain from provocative military deployments.
– Failure to do so risks destabilizing the country as well as the wider region.
– Building a national consensus through inclusive national dialogue, comprising all the relevant political actors, is now more important than ever.
-This will be the key to a democratic and prosperous future for the Ethiopian people. Coercion or the threat of force can never be an alternative.
-The European Union is firmly committed to supporting reforms in Ethiopia and reiterates that the only way to ensure the success of this endeavor is to uphold the rule of law while respecting human rights.
-This will also guarantee the possibility of free, fair and credible elections in 2021.

The following is a translation of Tigray Region president Debretsion Gebremichael’s major part of a 36 minutes presser which was broadcast live via Tigray TV a short while ago.
– The federal government has deliberately suspended the direct supports [saftynet] that go to Tigray people in revenge for the people’s participation in the election.
– The govt also tried to intervene and suspend sport activities but later reversed back for fear of reactions from international sport organizations like FIFA.
– The federal government’s effort to try to reach [Tigray] only through the Kebele level administration is typically a unitary government character.
– The govt now is trying to resolve these issues by force. Political differences are solved by discussion, political power is gained only by-election. There are signs that the government is trying to use force, that are mainly seen by standby order of the military throughout the country while nothing at this level needs such attention; on the other hand [it shows] the betrayal of the government …to hit its own country in collaboration with the Eritrean government that showed its willingness to help Abiy Ahmed.
– We have prepared our military of Special Force not in need of a war, but if the worst comes, to defend ourselves. Isaias [Afwerki] is playing his role as if he is a PP member, betraying the freedom of the country. Showing him around our Air Force base was outrageous. The base is restricted even to our own citizens let alone to a leader whose solders are pointing their rifles right in front of us, hiding in their fortress.
– We are still saying we don’t need any conflict or war; we only want to confront this through political dialogue.
– But they want to subdue the people of Tigray and they want the border issue to remain as it is until subjugating the Tigray people to its knee.
– We are assisting the Eritrean people with whatever we can in here and so the Eritrean people should be spared from unnecessary war.
– We have informed to every stakeholder including all major international bodies and governments about coming danger before anything happened.
– What does it mean for a government to try to hit its own part for holding election?
– We should give attention to the situation that is advancing to a war and everyone should be ready.
This war [if it happened] is the peoples’ war not the militias’ and the Special Force. We were working to avoid war but since the situations are being changed, and if the war is imminent, we are ready not only to resist but also to win the war.
– Any transfer of any sort of information regarding a military activity or war [if it happened] through social media or any media is strictly prohibited. Only we shall disseminate such information of the military matters. We strictly take measures if anyone does so.
Thank you


A war with the people of Tigray must be averted at all costs
News of an imminent armed confrontation between the Tigray region and the federal government of Abiy Ahmed is making the rounds on social media since the Tigray regional government called on Tigrayans to prepare themselves.
A war with Tigray will be yet another tragic and colossally wasteful war from which the Ethiopian state could not emerge intact. It will not solve the central ideological and political problem between TPLF & Abiy’s govt’. It will be endless and calamitous, with massive consequences for the rest of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. And the idea that Abiy can impose his will on Tigray through war in 2020 is mind-numbing and could not be disassociated from the ambitions of the Eritrean Dictator Isaias Afeworki. Abiy and Isaias see the TPLF as a menace. Isaias wants a revenge. Abiy sees in them a threat to his “Ethiopia First” vision.
The first “Ethiopia First” leader, Mengistu Hailemariam, lost Eritrea. The second “Ethiopia-First” leader, Abiy Ahmed, is likely to lose Tigray and perhaps more regions. Abiy’s shallow and sacrificial politics is costing civilian lives and leading country to the brink of explosion.
Ethiopians who support Abiy’s vision of the future must take stoke of Ethiopia’s past and ask themselves what, if any, vision he is offering for a political settlement that is acceptable to most actors. It is easy & convenient to blame the TPLF for all of Ethiopia’s problems, including the original sins, but the reality remains this: TPLF is perhaps the most politically organized & ideologically coherent force that no eventual political settlement in Ethiopia could work without their support. Abiy’s supporters have been spinning this confrontation as a war against TPLF but we all know that a war against TPLF will be a war against the people of Tigray in much the same way that TPLF’s war against the OLF was a war against the Oromo people.
The international community should not ignore this crisis until it morphs into a wholescale regional war, with considerable geo-strategic implication.