By Víctor M. Treviño
ADDIS ABEBA – This 1 November is the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Mexico and Ethiopia.
Certainly, the then Ethiopian Empire was the first African country with which Mexico established diplomatic relations in 1949, although the friendship goes back to the 1930s, when Mexico had an important role in the League of Nations by protesting against Italy’s annexation of Ethiopia in 1936.
On 26 May 1937, the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the League of Nations, Isidro Fabela, protested against the attempt to exclude Ethiopia from that organization. Such action contributed to Ethiopia’s permanence as a Member State of the League of Nations, even though its territory was occupied.
In appreciation of Mexico’s support, the Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, paid a State visit to Mexico in 1954, during which he inaugurated Ethiopia Square in Mexico City. In reciprocity, Mexico Square in Addis Ababa was inaugurated on 12 December 1958. Nowadays, these remain as a light rail station in Addis Ababa named after my country, as well as a subway station in Mexico City named after this country in the Horn of Africa.
During the last ten years, the Government of Mexico through its embassy has advanced the bilateral relation in the political, economic and south-south technical cooperation domains.
In this regard, Mexico’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Julián Ventura, came to Ethiopia during the past October to co-chair with his Ethiopian counterpart, Dr. Markos Tekle, the second meeting of the Consultation Mechanism on Matters of Common Interest between Mexico and Ethiopia. Both parties assessed the state of the bilateral relation and analyzed their regional agendas on the basis of both countries’ commitment to multilateralism.
In this context, it was announced that Ethiopian Airlines has formally started to operate a public cargo air transport service on the route Addis Ababa-Mexico City-Addis Ababa.
This flight is significant because Ethiopian Airlines is the first African airline to arrive in Mexico, so it will significantly boost bilateral trade by creating business opportunities for Mexican and Ethiopian companies.
In addition, the relation between Mexico and Ethiopia is expressed in multilateral affairs by the mutual support to candidacies in international organizations.
In this context, it must be highlighted that Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is considered as the political and diplomatic capital of Africa since its home to the African Union (AU).
The AU is the only space of dialogue and political concertation that gathers the 55 African countries. It is, therefore, the ideal forum to discuss the most important issues of the continental and global agenda, such as migration, peace and security, terrorism and poverty, among others.
For this reason, State Minister Ventura acknowledged the efforts made by African countries to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the largest in the world in terms of the number of countries that make it up. He also expressed the importance of considering the African agenda of conflict prevention and sustaining peace in case Mexico gains a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for the 2021-2022 term.
Our countries are a commitment to supporting peace and development in neighboring countries. In this respect, the Government of Mexico expressed its compliments to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Building bridges between our societies and promoting a greater understanding of each other’s culture is also a priority for both countries. It is for this reason that two photo exhibitions were set up recently at the Addis Ababa Museum and the Chapultepec Forest in Mexico City, to portray the most important moments of our shared history.
Mexico and Ethiopia have common goals such as inclusive development, gender equality and the fight against corruption. With these actions, Mexico reaffirms that it wishes to strengthen its friendship with Ethiopia.
Víctor M. Treviño* is the ambassador of Mexico to Ethiopia. @VMTrevino