Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was in Ethiopia on 24 March for the first stop on his visit to Africa. He met in Addis Ababa with government leaders and the Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission. He was able to witness first-hand the expansion of African peace and security architecture on his tour of the new premises housing the AU’s Peace and Security Department, which are being financed by the Federal Foreign Office.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier arrived on the morning of 24 March in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. Despite the early hour of his arrival, Steinmeier was greeted at the airport by his Ethiopian counterpart, Foreign Minister Tedros. He then proceeded to the National Palace to meet with President Mulatu. After talks among the delegation members and a brief tour of the Palace gardens and its lion enclosure, the German Foreign Minister then reconvened with Foreign Minister Tedros.
Ethiopia: a key mediator
At a joint press conference, Steinmeier praised Ethiopia as an important partner that plays a key role in helping to resolve numerous regional conflicts and that has taken on responsibility by participating in AU peace missions. Ethiopia acts as a key mediator in East Africa, for example by promoting stability in the Horn of Africa within the framework of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and by mediating the conflict between the Sudan and South Sudan.
Germany assists the training of security forces
Steinmeier assured Foreign Minister Tedros that Germany wants to further enhance its support for the training of security forces on the African continent. This support is also in Europe’s interest, Steinmeier added, stating:
We are living in a time when regional conflicts rarely remain restricted to a particular region. The numerous clashes on the African continent also have an impact on Europe.
The Foreign Minister stated that he himself aims to help change Germany’s perception of Africa. He emphasised that, along with a focus on Africa’s trouble spots, Germany’s Africa policy also needs to place a priority on regional integration in Africa, an area where Germany can bring its own experiences in the European Union to bear.
Talks with the African Union
Following his meeting with Prime Minister Hailemariam, Steinmeier convened with Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, at the AU Commission headquarters. Their talks focused on the AU’s role in Africa. Established in 2002 as the successor to the Organization of African Unity, the AU testifies to Africa’s initiative in taking responsibility for the construction of a peace and security architecture for the entire continent.
After the meeting, Steinmeier emphasised that events in recent years have demonstrated that the world is moving closer and closer together: regional crises on one continent have effects on the other, as shown for example by the financial crisis in Europe or the conflicts in Somalia and the Sudan/South Sudan in Africa. This is a good reason, he stated, to work together even more closely in the future. AU Commission Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma added that there is particular potential for cooperation between Germany and the AU in the area of education and training.
Expanding Africa’s peace and security architecture
Germany is already providing a very concrete contribution to Africa’s peace and security architecture by financing the new building housing the AU’s Peace and Security Department. The Federal Foreign Office has allocated approximately 27 million euros to finance the new premises, which are still under construction. The German Foreign Minister and his delegation had the opportunity to tour the site following their talks with the AU.
Finally, at an evening meeting with civil society representatives, Steinmeier’s talks also turned to domestic political conditions in Ethiopia.