By M.A. Egge
Ethiopian Premier Haile Mariam Desalegn has reiterated that his country’s strong bilateral relations with Somaliland was quite essential and here to stay because of the mutual bilateral interests entailed and cherished between the two countries which is based on neighbourliness .
The premier gave the sentiments in a first instance interview he had with a Somali TV, the Universal, monitored here that he gave to renowned Somalilander journalist Abdisalan Harere.
The interview monitored by our sister paper Dawan’s Chief Editor Omar M. Farah reports that the premier stated that as per the aspirations of the people of SL as concerns its separation from Somalia it was a local issue that was to be thrashed out by the Somali people concerned alone.
This comment came when asked about the two-prong relations Ethiopia had with both countries.
The further expounded, “I was further encouraged when the sitting President initiated the Somaliland-Somalia dialogue hence the talks should be tangible.”
He added, “However, before the talks amply conclude the issue we (Ethiopia) has to essentially deal with Somaliland since we are close and neighbourly hence whatever happens in SL directly affects us”.
To set the records straight, though, it is worth noting that the talks was initiated during the Sharif Sheikh Ahmed era.
In underscoring the importance of Somaliland’s position as far as Ethiopian neighbourliness is concerned, the premier underpinned the stability factor.
“Our security depends on SL’s stability”, he said, and added, “and as to such we cannot close our eyes to this fact and assume that whatever happens in SL does not concern us, even if it is not recognized internationally”.
He said that it was imperatively incumbent upon them to have essential bilateral relations in all sectors such as security, humanity and commercial hence obligatory for the neighbours to cross the borders as necessary.
“Our people are so close that it is hard to differentiate (separate) them”.
He repeated the fact that they had to relate to both countries hence cited the Berbera Port which his country used for decades.
The premier defended the international community as concerns the SL recognition issue by maintaining that it was an issue to be mutually dealt with by the Somali people alone.
“We believe the aspirations of a people emenate from them hence are the reasons the issue is passed back to the Somali people,” he said.
As concerns the Ethiopia-Eritrea rivalry, he says that he believes that the animosity could be dealt with through dialogues.
He however noted that it was the Eritreans who never heeded the calls for peace.