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Foreign relations of Ethiopia

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Title: Foreign relations of Ethiopia  
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Subject: Ethiopia–Greece relations, Canada–Ethiopia relations, Ethiopia–Ireland relations, Ethiopia–Finland relations, Ethiopia–Sweden relations
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Foreign relations of Ethiopia

Many historians trace modern Ethiopia's foreign policy to the reign of Emperor Tewodros II, whose primary concerns were the security of Ethiopia's traditional borders, obtaining technology from Europe (or modernization), and to a lesser degree Ethiopian rights to the monastery of Dar-es-Sultan in the city of Jerusalem.[1] Tewodros' diplomatic efforts, however, ended disastrously with the British expedition of 1868 which concluded with his death. Despite the efforts of his successor Emperor Yohannes IV to establish a relationship with the United Kingdom, Ethiopia was ignored by the world powers until the opening of the Suez Canal, and more important, the Mahdist War, drew outside attention to her once more.[2]

The same major interests that Tewodros had—the security of Ethiopia's traditional borders and modernization—were once again foremost, as demonstrated by the outcome of the First Italo–Ethiopian War, Ethiopia's admission to the League of Nations (28 September 1923), and the 1935 Second Italo-Abyssinian War. Following the decisive Ethiopian victory at Adwa, Menelik II rapidly negotiated a series of treaties fixing Ethiopia's boundaries—with French Somaliland in March 1897, British Somaliland a few months later in June 1897, with Italian Eritrea in 1900, Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in 1902, British East Africa in 1907, and Italian Somaliland in 1908—which simplified this problem on one level. Although Emperor Haile Selassie agreed to an agreement with the British government to help him restore order to Ethiopia, which benefited him in crushing the Woyane Rebellion, he worked to its eventual termination.

Following Non-Aligned Movement, after the 1974 revolution, Ethiopia also moved into a close relationship with the Soviet Union and its allies and supported their international policies and positions until a change of government in 1991.

Today, Ethiopia is a major economic partner of Djibouti and Sudan, although border demarcation negotiations are still ongoing with the Omar Al-Bashir administration. Relations with Somalia have also gradually improved, particularly since the establishment of a new government in Mogadishu. Ethiopia's dealings with Eritrea are extremely tense due to an ongoing border dispute between the two countries.

The Ethiopian government's relations with the U.S. and the West in general have been centered on military and economic cooperation. In addition, Ethiopia maintains diplomatic links with China, Israel, Mexico and India, among other countries. Addis Ababa also serves as the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the African Union, as well as numerous other continental and international organizations.



Diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Djibouti were established in 1984.[3] The border between the two countries is based on the Franco-Ethiopian convention of 20 March 1897, which was later finalized in a protocol dated 16 January 1954 and rendered effective on 28 February of that year.[4] In October 1991, the Ethiopian and Djiboutian governments signed a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation further solidifying relations. Since 1991, the two countries have signed over 39 protocol agreements.[3]

Djibouti remains a major economic partner of Ethiopia. On 13 April 2002, the two countries signed an agreement concerning the use of the Port of Djibouti and the transit of cargo, which was later ratified by the Ethiopian Federal Parliamentary Assembly on 4 June of the same year.[5] About 70% of the Port of Djibouti's activity consists of imports to and exports from neighboring Ethiopia, which depends on the harbour as its main maritime outlet. The port also serves as an international refueling center and transshipment hub.[6] Additionally, both countries share ownership of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railroad.


As two of the oldest independent states in Africa, both countries have an ancient relationship in many forms. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was under the administration of the Coptic Orthodox Church from ancient times until 1959. Ethiopian and Egyptian armies clashed in the early 19th century over control of territory in what is modern Sudan, and Ethiopia's access to the Red Sea. Both countries established formal diplomatic ties in 1927.[7] More recently, because both countries share a special relationship over the Nile basin, both are members of the Nile Basin Initiative.


  • The boundary between these two countries is based on three treaties between Ethiopia and Italy, in 1900, 1902, and 1908. However no part of the shared boundary was afterwards demarcated.[8]
  • From 1950 until 1993, Eritrea was federated as part of Ethiopia. During much of this period, a number of Eritreans fought for independence from Ethiopia. The federation was ended with an April 1993 plebiscite which approved Eritrea's full independence.
  • Disputes over Eritrea's border alignment led to the Eritrean-Ethiopian War (1998–2000), which was resolved by an independent boundary commission's delimitation decision in 2002. However, demarcation has been delayed, despite intense international intervention, by Ethiopian insistence that the decision ignored "human geography," made technical errors in the delimitation, and determined that certain disputed areas, specifically Badme, fall to Eritrea. Eritrea meanwhile insists on not deviating from the commission's decision. The peacekeepers monitoring the disputed boundary were forced to withdraw in July 2008[9] having considered their remaining options[10] after experiencing serious difficulties in supporting its troops.[11]


Relations between Kenya and Ethiopia date back to the 1954, when the Ethiopian authorities under Haile Selassie I established an Honorary Consulate General in the British Kenya Colony. In 1961, prior to Kenya's independence, Ethiopia appointed its first Ambassador to Kenya and six years later Kenya opened an Embassy in Addis Ababa.[12]

The border between the two countries is based on a treaty signed by Ethiopia and Kenya on June 9, 1970, which determines the present-day boundary, abrogating all previous boundary treaties. This border has been subjected to demarcation.[13]


Ethiopia–Namibia relations refers to the current and historical relationship between Ethiopia and Namibia. Namibia maintains an embassy in Addis Ababa.

During the South African occupation of Namibia, Ethiopia was one of the country's leading proponents abroad; Ethiopia and Liberia were the first two states to bring the question of independence for then South West Africa to the United Nations.[14] Namibia gained independence in 1990 In 2007, the two governments signed an agreement which expanded air travel between the two states.[15] In December 2009, Namibia's Foreign Minister, Marko Hausiku met with Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Seyoum Mesfin and noted the economic, science, technical and cultural agreements in place between the two countries and expressed a desire to improve the trade relations.[16]


Relations between the peoples of Somalia and Ethiopia stretch back to antiquity, to a common origin. The Ethiopian region is one of the proposed homelands of the Horn of Africa's various Afro-Asiatic communities.[17]

During the Middle Ages, Imam Ahmad ibn Ibrihim al-Ghazi (Ahmad Gurey or Gragn) led a Conquest of Abyssinia (Futuh al-Habash), which brought three-quarters of the Christian Ethiopian Empire under the power of the Muslim Adal Sultanate.[18][19] With an army mainly composed of Somalis,[20] Many historians trace the origins of tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia to this war.[21]

In the 1960s and 1970s, a territorial dispute over the Ogaden region led to various armed confrontations between the Somalian and Ethiopian militaries. The tensions culminated in the Ogaden War, which saw the Somali army capture most of the disputed territory by September 1977, before finally being expelled by a coalition of communist forces.

With changes in leadership in the early 1990s brought on by the start of the Somali Civil War and Ethiopian Civil War, respectively, relations between the Somali and Ethiopian authorities entered a new phase of military cooperation against the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) rebel group and its more radical successor Al-Shabaab. In October 2011, a coordinated multinational operation began against Al-Shabaab in southern Somalia; the Ethiopian military eventually joined the Transitional Federal Government-led mission the following month.[22]

The Federal Government of Somalia was later established on August 20, 2012,[23] representing the first permanent central government in the country since the start of the civil war.[23] The following month, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was elected as the new Somali government's first President, with the Ethiopian authorities welcoming his selection and newly appointed Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemariam Desalegn attending Mohamud's inauguration ceremony.[24]


Ethiopia and Sudan first established formal relations in 1956.[25] Relations between Ethiopia and Sudan were very good following the end of the Ethiopian Civil War, due to the support that the Sudanese government had given to the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front. However, relations were strained for a time following the 26 June 1995 assassination attempt against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak as he was leaving the OAU summit meeting in Addis Ababa. The subsequent investigation revealed that Sudan was involved in this act, forcing the Ethiopian government to take a series of steps against Sudan that September, which included closing the Sudanese consulate in Gambela, reducing the number of Sudanese embassy staff, and terminating all Sudan Airways and Ethiopian Airlines flights between the two countries. However the start of the Eritrean-Ethiopian War led to Sudan and Ethiopia put this conflict between them and normalizing their relations by November 1999 when president Omar Hassan al-Bashir made a formal visit to Addis Ababa.[26]

A protocol concerning Ethiopian access to Port Sudan was signed between the two countries 5 March 2000 in Khartoum, and this protocol and its subsequent amendment were ratified by the Ethiopian Federal Parliamentary Assembly on 3 July 2003.[27]

Efforts to demarcate the porous boundary with Sudan were delayed by the Second Sudanese Civil War. In May 2008, residents along the western Ethiopian border reportedly discovered that the government had agreed to demarcate this boundary when Sudanese soldiers forced them out of their homes. It was reported that as many as 2,000 people were displaced in the Gambela Region, and the Sudanese army reportedly set fire to two dozen Ethiopian farms and imprisoned 34 people in the Amhara Region. However, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi publicly denied that any Ethiopians had been displaced by this agreement.[28] Negotiations over this boundary continues, with the twelfth meeting of the Boundary Commission announced 28 December 2009 at Mek'ele, with Ethiopian representatives from the Tigray, Benishangul-Gumuz, Amhara and Gambela Regions, and from the Sudanese side representatives of the Upper Nile, Blue Nile, Sennar and Al Qadarif Administrations.[29]

Despite these border tensions, Sudan remains a major economic partner of Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian Petroleum Supplier Enterprise (EPSE), Ethiopia in April 2013 imported around $1.12 billion worth of oil from Sudan over the previous six months. In total, about 85% of Ethiopia's yearly oil consumption comes from Sudan via the Port of Djibouti. Ethiopia and Sudan are also in the process of linking their power grids.[30]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Czech Republic
See Denmark–Ethiopia relations
1959-07-17 See Ethiopia–Finland relations
  • Ethiopia is represented in Finland through its embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
  • Finland has an embassy in Addis Ababa.[34]
  • Both countries signed a treaty of friendship in March 1905; a German Legation was opened in Addis Ababa in 1907, and an Ethiopian embassy in Berlin the same year.
  • Germany supported Italy in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War
  • Trade between the two countries amounted to 5.9 billion Birr in 2010, up from 2.3 billion birr five years earlier.[35]
  • Ethiopia’s main export to Germany is coffee, with Germany consuming more than 30 per cent of Ethiopia’s total coffee exports. The main German exports to Ethiopia are finished products such as machinery, engines, motor vehicles, chemicals and medicines.[36]
1994 See Ethiopia–Ireland relations
  • Ethiopia has an embassy in Dublin.
  • Since 1994, Ireland has an embassy in Addis Ababa.
1889 See Ethiopia–Italy relations
  • Italy was one of the first European countries to open diplomatic relations with Ethiopia.
  • Both countries have fought two wars against each other: the First Italo-Ethiopian War and the Second Italo-Ethiopian War
  • Total trade volume between two countries reached 455,928,352.26 Birr in 2011.[37]
  • Italy has an embassy in Addis Ababa.[38]
  • Ethiopia has an embassy in Rome.[39]
  • Ethiopia is represented in Romania through its embassy in Vienna (Austria).
  • Romania has an embassy in Addis Ababa.[40]
  • Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about bilateral relations with Romania
1943-4-21 See Ethiopia–Russia relations
See Ethiopian–Turkish relations
  • Ethiopia has an embassy in Ankara.
  • Turkey has an embassy in Addis Ababa since 1925.
  • Contact between the two countries date back at least as far as Ottoman times.
  • Turkey was the sixth country to open an embassy in Ethiopia.
  • Today the relations between the two countries are described as excellent, both politically and economically.[41]


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
1970 See Ethiopia–People's Republic of China relations

Ethiopia has an embassy in Beijing[42] and the People's Republic of China has an embassy in Addis Ababa.[43] By 2009, direct Chinese investment in Ethiopia had reached US$900 million and bilateral trade had grown to $1.3 billion.[44]

1948 See India–Ethiopia relations
1992 See Ethiopia–Israel relations
1930 See Ethiopia-Japan relations
  • Japan and Ethiopia explored diplomatic and economic relations in the 1930s in response to a perceived common interests; however these contacts lapsed with the commencement of the Second Italo-Ethiopian War
  • Relations were reestablished in 1955 and ambassadors exchanged in 1958.[47]
See Ethiopia–Malaysia relations
  • Ethiopia has a consulate-general in Kuala Lumpur,[48] while Malaysia doesn't have any embassy in Ethiopia.
  • Malaysia is one of the major trade partner and also one of the largest investors in Ethiopia.[49][50][51]
1989 Palestine has an embassy in Addis Ababa.
See Ethiopia-Qatar relations
  • Ethiopia abruptly broke diplomatic ties with Qatar in April 2008, apparently due to statements made by the Al-Jazeera news channel which is based in Qatar.
1963-12-23 See Foreign relations of the Republic of Korea


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
1956 See Canada–Ethiopia relations
1949 See Ethiopia–Mexico relations
  • During the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, Mexico was the only country to condemn the occupation of the country in the League of Nations.[54] Since then, relations between the two nations have strengthened.
  • In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia named a square in the capital "Mexico Square." Mexico, in turn, named a metro station in Mexico City called Metro Etiopía.
  • Mexico has an embassy in Addis Ababa.[55]
  • Ethiopia is accredited to Mexico through its embassy in [56]
1903 See Ethiopia–United States relations
  • Ethiopia is a strategic partner of the United States in the Global War on Terrorism.
  • U.S. development assistance to Ethiopia is focused on reducing famine vulnerability, hunger, and poverty and emphasizes economic, governance, and social sector policy reforms.
  • Ethiopia has an embassy in [56]
  • United States has an embassy in Addis Ababa.[57]
  • See also: Ethiopian American

See also


  1. ^ The political history of the Ethiopian community, and their struggle for ownership of this small monastery, is retold in Chris Proutky, Empress Taytu and Menelik II (Trenton: The Red Sea Press, 1986), pp. 247-256
  2. ^ Although Bahru Zewde, A History of Modern Ethiopia, second edition (Oxford: James Currey, 2001), believes that the Suez Canal brought strategic value to the Red Sea region (p. 73), Sven Rubenson, The Survival of Ethiopian Independence (Hollywood: Tsehai,1991) argues that only with the Mahdi War did the United Kingdom interest themselves once again in Ethiopia (pp. 283ff).
  3. ^ a b "Ethiopia - Djibouti relations", Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (Retrieved 9 October 2009)
  4. ^ "Djibouti – Ethiopia Boundary", U.S. Department of State, International Boundary Study No. 154 – 20 February 1976
  5. ^ "Ethio-Djibouti Utilization of Port of Djibouti and Services to Cargo in Transit Agreement Ratification Proclamation No. 284/2002" (Retrieved 13 July 2010) Archived March 4, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Findings of the UN Eritea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission Archived November 13, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^
  10. ^ United Nations Security Council Document 226. S/2008/226 Special report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea 7 April 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2008.
  11. ^ United Nations Security Council Document 145. S/2008/145 Special report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea 3 March 2008. Retrieved 17 August 2008.
  12. ^ "Ethiopia - Kenya relations", Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (accessed 9 October 2009)
  13. ^ "Ethiopia – Kenya Boundary", U.S. State Department International Boundary Study, No. 152 – October 15, 1975
  14. ^
  15. ^ Ethiopia, Namibia sign air transport agreement Archived January 19, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ Ethiopia, Namibia working out to step up cooperation areas Archived March 28, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^
  18. ^ Saheed A. Adejumobi, The History of Ethiopia, (Greenwood Press: 2006), p.178
  19. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, inc, Encyclopedia Britannica, Volume 1, (Encyclopaedia Britannica: 2005), p.163
  20. ^ John L. Esposito, editor, The Oxford History of Islam, (Oxford University Press: 2000), p. 501
  21. ^ David D. Laitin and Said S. Samatar, Somalia: Nation in Search of a State (Boulder: Westview Press, 1987).
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b
  24. ^
  25. ^ "Ethiopia - Sudan relations", Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (Retrieved 9 October 2009)
  26. ^ David H. Shinn, "Ethiopia: Coping with Islamic Fundamentalism before and after September 11" (last accessed 10 December 2008)
  27. ^ "protocol Agreement on Port Sudan Utilization Ratification Proclamation No. 352/2003", "Amendment to the Protocol Agreement, on Port Sudan Utilization, Ratification Proclamation No. 35312003" (Retrieved 13 July 2010) Archived March 4, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ Alisha Ryu, "Border Demarcation with Sudan Causes Anger in Ethiopia", Voice of America website, 5 June 2008 (Retrieved 3 April 2009)
  29. ^ "Ethio-Sudanese Border Commission Meeting To Open Monday (December 28, 2009)", Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (Retrieved 28 December 2009) Archived February 20, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^
  31. ^ Ethiopian Honorary Consulate in Prague
  32. ^ Czech embassy in Ethiopia
  33. ^ Denmark embassy in Ethiopia Archived January 1, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland about Ethiopia
  35. ^ Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about Germany
  36. ^ Federal Republic of Germany Office about Ethiopia
  37. ^ Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs about Italy
  38. ^ Embassy of Italy in Addis Ababa (in English and Italian)
  39. ^ Embassy of Ethiopia in Rome (in Italian)
  40. ^ Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: direction of the Romenian embassy in Addis Ababa
  41. ^ Ethiopian Ambassador to Turkey: Ethiopia does not need political reform, Walta Information Center Archived September 27, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^
  45. ^ Embassy of Ethiopia in Tel-Aviv
  46. ^ Embassy of Israel in Addis Ababa
  47. ^ "Bilateral relations", Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website (Retrieved 28 December 2009) Archived March 25, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^
  51. ^
  52. ^ Embassy of Canada in Addis Ababa (in English and French)
  53. ^ Embassy of Ethiopia in Ottawa
  54. ^ Bilateral relations between Mexico and Ethiopia (in Spanish)
  55. ^ Embassy of Mexico in Addis Ababa (in English and Spanish)
  56. ^ a b Embassy of Ethiopia in Washington, DC
  57. ^ US embassy in Addis Ababa

External links

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Ethiopia's webpage
  • A Tangled Political Landscape Raises Questions About African Ally of the U.S. by Michael Deibert, 12 June 2008
  • Abdul Mohammed, "Ethiopia’s Strategic Dilemma in the Horn of Africa", Crisis in the Horn of Africa (Social Science Research Council website)
  • , 4 May 1989.The Christian Science Monitor"U.S. to Test Soviet 'New Thinking': Talks on Africa,"
  • "Gorbachev's Holocaust: Soviet Complicity in Ethiopia's Famine", by Michael Johns, Policy Review, Summer 1988.

Further reading

  • Amare Tekle, Journal of Modern African Studies"The Determinants of the Foreign Policy of Revolutionary Ethiopia", , Vol. 27, No. 3 (Sep., 1989), pp. 479–502
  • Orobola Fasehun, Africa Spectrum"Nigeria and the Ethiopia-Somalia Conflict: A Case Study of Continuity in Nigerian Foreign Policy", , 17 (1982), pp. 183–193

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.

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