DEMEKE MEKONNEN HASSEN, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia, applauding scientists for tackling the COVID-19 vaccine challenge, said science can serve humanity only if good faith and rationality guide politics. Unfortunately, Africa, with a negligible vaccination rate, is left waiting for the drips from the surplus of others due to vaccine nationalism. In addition, the pandemic’s economic devastation in developing countries is yet to be addressed by meaningful economic and financial measures. Citing other problems the world must address, he said poverty and dependence on foreign aid are causing political, governance, security and human development challenges. As global warming is the most alarming driver of poverty, he said realizing targets under the 2030 Agenda is overdue, with COP26 hopefully paving the way for climate financing to restore ecosystems.
Ethiopia has always been steadfast in its support for multilateral institutions, he said. However, there is a glaring need to reiterate that the fundamental values of sovereign-equality, non-interference and cooperation are based on mutual benefit and respect. Multilateralism will meet its objective only if States are able and free to manage their domestic and external affairs. In 2018, Ethiopia embarked on a reform programme, centred on human rights, dialogue and unity to harness the nation’s potential. Alas, some groups are sowing anarchy, instigating violence and destruction, he said, recalling the November attack against the Ethiopian National Defence Force. The Government responded, caught by surprise and unprepared, he said, raising concerns about dangerous narratives surrounding the situation. Ceasefires, investigations and other responses have attempted to overcome a twisted propaganda campaign, he stated, adding that: “At this stage, we are nearly convinced humanitarian assistance is a pretext for advancing political considerations.”
Despite this, Ethiopia will live up to its commitment to the country’s territorial integrity, he said, noting that attempts to support the situation requires a full understanding of it. More broadly, the entire region is facing a disruptive trend, and supporting Ethiopia to overcome this criminal group is helping to sustain regional peace. Dialogue has always been the preferred course of action, he said, committing to work with the African Union, which must be given space. Indeed, the political and security landscape in Africa is on a path of adversity, he warned, pointing to the forcible overthrow of Governments, joint military exercises, aggression, renewed appetite for intervention in sovereign countries, subversion and mercenaryism and a renewed scramble for natural resources. “Unless we swiftly change course, this will be yet another round to destabilize Africa and disenfranchise Africans in the determination of our destiny,” he said, expressing hope that there will be more countries to lift the banner of multilateralism rather than the vagaries of unilateralism.
Citing national gains, he pointed to the recent free, fair elections and advancement of the Grand Renaissance Dam. However, the project has been politicized before global bodies and has been threatened. The generational desire to use its natural resources will not be stopped by a colonial legacy and monopolistic cause. For its part, Ethiopia will always be a beacon of freedom and symbol of peace. As a nation that has never posed a threat to security of other States, Ethiopia will maintain its support to regional and global stability, he said, highlighting contributions to peacekeeping missions.
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