ADDIS ABABA – Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen has called on Ireland to refrain from attacking Ethiopia using its membership in the UN Security Council, the European Union, and elsewhere.
The relationship between the two countries has hit rock bottom as authorities accuse Ireland of undermining the East African nation “incessantly in its real earnest” since the start of the conflict in northern Ethiopia two years ago.
They say repeated pleas made to the European nation have been unheeded, prompting Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen to send an official ultimatum to his Irish counterpart, Simon Coveney, this week.
In the letter, Demeke, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, said Ethiopia enjoyed “historic and cordial relations” with Ireland, calling the recent acrimonious encounters unexpected.
According to the FM, Dublin is playing an unproductive role in Addis Ababa’s bid to bring peace to its northern territory and normalize its ties with the European Union.
FM Demeke, in the letter, said the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) panicked when the dawn of democracy came to Ethiopia in 2018, and it has since held hostage Ethiopians in the Tigray region and mobilized fighting force, including conscripting children to its armed units.
“As you would know, the TPLF then attacked the Ethiopian northern command on 3 November 2020 with exceptional barbarity. It thus triggered the conflict,” Demeke told Coveney.
He also said that the rebel group responded to all Government measures of confidence building with yet another attack.
The measures mentioned by the Minister include the investigation into alleged human rights violations during the conflict, accepting AU-led peace talks, a comprehensive transitional justice plan, and initiating a national dialogue process.
“We take these measures to lay strong foundations for the future of our country and to prevent conflicts in the future,” Demeke told Coveney.
Ireland, he said, could have supported these forward-looking measures and political and economic reforms in Ethiopia.
“Instead, Ireland has continued attacking Ethiopia using its membership in the UN Security Council, the European Union, and elsewhere,” Demeke noted.
“To our utter surprise,” continued Demeke, “EU groups visiting Ethiopia privately advise us that we need to mend fences with Ireland if we desire to normalize relations with the European Union.”
“We agree we need to restore our historical ties with Ireland. It is a worthy goal on its own,” Foreign Minister Demeke noted.
However, he said efforts made so far, including a plea for Ireland to reduce hostilities and attacks against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ethiopia and reengage with the Irish officials, have not worked to bring results.
“Ireland appears to be intent on emboldening the TPLF and calling for coercive actions against Ethiopia using its membership in the UNSC,” the Minister said.
In the letter, Demeke called on Ireland “to refrain from further hostility against Ethiopia”, stating that two nations “can constructively engage in state-to-state relations as per international law.”
“As a measure of last resort, we can find an opportunity to deliberate whether there is a mutual will to pursue our diplomatic ties,” FM Demeke wrote.
“I eagerly waits for your response, based on which the Government can conclude whether the countries have reason enough to continue what is left of their relations based on the principles of mutual respect and sovereign equality of nations,” Demeke said.
Featured Image Caption: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen [Photo MoFA]