Ethiopian Ambassador to Ankara Ayalew Gobezie Workneh said Turkey and Ethiopia have longstanding ties and stressed that currently this relationship has been strengthened with Turkey's recent steps toward the continent.
"Turkey is an old friend of Africa and has always been welcomed by the countries on the continent," Workneh told Daily Sabah and added that Turkey is becoming a strategic developmental partner for Africa.
The ambassador underlined that the current enhanced ties with Turkey date back to the Ottoman Empire and pointed to the high-level visits to the country contributing to the ties.
When he took office, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid his first official visit to Ethiopia, located on the horn of Africa, in 2015. Commenting on Turkey's recent activities in Africa, the ambassador also said Turkey's representation has increased in recent years with the opening of more than 40 embassies in Africa.
‘Turkey's efforts in Somalia essential'
As Turkey has been involved in military training in Somalia, the Ethiopian envoy said, "Turkey is playing a significant role in Somalia to build the military capacity of the Somalian government." Turkey opened its biggest overseas military base last year in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. "If our neighboring countries become stable we can benefit from that," the ambassador said.
Workneh also highlighted that, "Ethiopia is the main peace contributor in the region with its peacekeeping force in different parts of Africa including Somalia, South Sudan Darfur, and in the other regions as well, based on the demand of the United Nations and the African Union."
He added that, "This peace keeping force is also working in Somalia in the name of the African Union Mission in Somalia [AMISOM], which is a group of military forces that came from different countries in eastern Africa following the decision of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development [IGAD]."
The envoy said these efforts aim to support peace, stability and cooperation between other African countries and Somalia.
The Ethiopian envoy said Ethiopia expects Turkey to share its experiences as Ethiopia is working on building a hydroelectric power dam alongside the Nile, which originates from the country. In relation to the issue, as the river also travels through Egypt, the country has been voicing its concerns about a possible water decrease.
Workneh stated that Ethiopia would like to learn how Turkey manages its ties with other countries when it comes to the use of trans-boundary rivers such as the Euphrates.
‘Ethiopia extends hand to Eritrea to end war'In a surprise announcement, the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) has announced it will fully accept and implement the peace deal that ended the war with Eritrea. It was stated that the country will abide by a 2002 border ruling that would put an end to Africa's deadliest border war.
"Our government calls on the Eritrean government for lasting peace. We extended a hand of friendship to the Eritrean government to take similar steps for peace," the Ethiopian envoy stated. The border war began on May 6, 1998 between the two countries following the official independence of Eritrea from Ethiopia on May 24, 1993.
On April 13, 2002, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission delivered its "final and binding" ruling in relation to the conflict. "We are brotherly countries. We have lost a good opportunity to transform our democracy and economy over the years. It's the right time to take crucial steps to bring sustainable peace," the ambassador highlighted and added that Ethiopia is waiting for a response from the Eritrean government.
‘investors expected at Ethiopia's industry parks'
In relation to the economic ties between the two countries, the ambassador stated that Ethiopia benefits substantially from Turkish engagement in business activities. He added that the two countries need to increase the trade volume to $1 billion.
He underlined that: "Turkey has many industrial parks and has accumulated experience in the manufacturing sector. There are big potential investors, and we are hoping Turkish businessmen will show interest in our manufacturing sectors."
Workneh stressed that Ethiopia has 12 industrial parks in different cities across the country that aim to attract direct investment. "We are simply requesting that foreign investors bring their machinery and their projects and start manufacturing in our industrial parks," he added.
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