Foreign relations of Ethiopia

Foreign relations of Ethiopia

Like many states in sub-Saharan Africa, Ethiopia was relatively isolated from other countries not immediately adjacent to her, until well into the 19th century. Many historians trace modern Ethiopian foreign policy to the reign of Emperor Tewodros II, whose primary concerns were the security of Ethiopia's traditional borders, obtaining technology from Europe (or modernization), and to a lesser degree Ethiopian rights to the monastery of Dar-es-Sultan in the city of Jerusalem. [The political history of the Ethiopian community, and their struggle for ownership of this small monastery, is retold in Chris Proutky, "Empress Taytu and Menelik II" (Trenton: The Red Sea Press, 1986), pp. 247-256] Tewodros' diplomatic efforts, however, ended disastrously with the British expedition of 1868 which concluded with his death. Despite the efforts of his successor Emperor Yohannes IV to establish a relationship with the United Kingdom, Ethiopia was ignored by the world powers until the opening of the Suez Canal, and more importantly the Mahdist War, drew outside attention to her once more. [Although Bahru Zewde, "A History of Modern Ethiopia", second edition (Oxford: James Currey, 2001), believes that the Suez Canal brought strategic value to the Red Sea region (p. 73), Sven Rubenson, "The Survival of Ethiopian Independence" (Hollywood: Tsehai,1991) argues that only with the Mahdi War did the United Kingdom interest themselves once again in Ethiopia (pp. 283ff).]

The same major interests that Tewodros had -- the security of Ethiopia's traditional borders and modernization -- were once again foremost, as demonstrated by the outcome of the First Italo-Abyssinian War, Ethiopia's admission to the League of Nations (28 September 1923), and the 1935 Italian invasion. Since World War II, it has played an active role in world and African affairs. Ethiopia was a charter member of the United Nations and took part in UN operations in Korea in 1951 and the Congo in 1960. Former Emperor Haile Selassie was a founder of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Addis Ababa is the host capital for the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the OAU.

Although nominally a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, after the 1974 revolution, Ethiopia moved into a close relationship with the Soviet Union and its allies and supported their international policies and positions until the change of government in 1991.

Today, Ethiopia has very good relations with the U.S. and the West, especially in responding to regional instability and, increasingly, through economic involvement. Ethiopia's relations with Eritrea are extremely tense due to an ongoing border dispute. Continuing instability along Ethiopia's borders with Sudan and Somalia contributes to tension with the National Islamic Front regime in Sudan and several groups in Somalia.

International disputes


*Most of the southern half of the boundary with Somalia is a Provisional Administrative Line, not an international boundary
*Somaliland secessionists provide port facilities and trade ties to landlocked Ethiopia
*Territorial dispute with Somalia over the Ogaden
*Although the Government of Ethiopia has allied with local clans in opposition to the Transitional National Government in the past, it currently is supporting the Transitional Government against its main rival, the Islamic Courts Union.


*Dispute over alignment of boundary with Eritrea led to the Eritrean-Ethiopian War (1998 - 2000), which was resolved by the 2002 independent boundary commission's delimitation decision. However, demarcation has been delayed, despite intense international intervention, by Ethiopian insistence that the decision ignored "human geography," made technical errors in the delimitation, and determined that certain disputed areas, specifically Badme, fall to Eritrea. Eritrea meanwhile insists on not deviating from the commission's decision


*Efforts to demarcate the porous boundary with Sudan have been delayed by civil war

Illicit drugs

*Transit hub for heroin originating in Southwest and Southeast Asia and destined for Europe and North America, as well as cocaine destined for markets in southern Africa.
*Cultivates qat (khat) for local use and regional export, principally to Djibouti and Somalia.
*Lack of a well-developed financial system limits the country's usefulness as a money-laundering center

ee also

* Ethiopian diplomatic missions
* Foreign aid to Ethiopia
* List of diplomatic missions in Ethiopia
* Ethiopia-United States relations
* Ethiopia-Pakistan relations


External links

* [ Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Ethiopia's webpage]

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