PM Abiy Ahmed addressing parliamentarians on Tuesday, March 28, 2023.

Abiy: “Ethiopia has no Intention of Causing harm to Somalia”

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday said Ethiopia has no intention of causing harm to Somalia in its quest for access to the sea amid deteriorating diplomatic relations between the two neighboring countries.

The prime minister made the remarks Tuesday while addressing the lower house of the Ethiopian parliament. Responding to MPs’ questions, Abiy said Ethiopia “does not wish any harm to come upon Somalia.”

His comments came as tensions continue to mount in relations between the two Horn of Africa countries after Ethiopia and Somaliland, a self-declared region of Somalia, signed an agreement last month, allowing Ethiopia access to the Red Sea in return for its recognition of Somaliland as an independent state.

Somalia, which views Somaliland as part of its territory, described the agreement as having no legal force, and termed the accord as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and appealed to the international community to intervene.

“The people of Ethiopia and Somalia are bound by blood. Many Ethiopians have died for the peace of Somalia. No country has paid as much as Ethiopia for the peace of Somalia. This is because the peace of Somalia is the peace of Ethiopia,” Abiy told MPs

He underscored that Ethiopia’s ambition to have access to the sea would augment regional integration among countries in the Horn of Africa.

“Our request is for sea access based on mutual benefit. This is useful not only for Ethiopia but also for regional cooperation,” he said.

The Ethiopian prime minister, however, said “some forces” are trying to fuel the current diplomatic impasse and the resulting mounting tensions between the two countries.

“Ethiopia does not acknowledge war against any country in principle. However, some forces are trying to incite conflict between the two nations, which should not happen,” he said, without mentioning the destabilizing forces.

The recent deteriorating diplomatic relations between Ethiopia and Somalia prompted various continental and regional actors, such as the African Union (AU) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to call on the two countries to exercise restraint and take steps to de-escalate tensions.