Ethio-Djibouti Border Commissioners/Administrators Meeting in Dikhil City

The 23rd Ethio-Djibouti Border Commissioners/Administrators Meeting was held between 26 and 28 December 2016 in Dikhil City in the Republic of Djibouti. Mr. Sirag Omar Abdoulkader, Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Djibouti, led the Djiboutian delegation, and Mr. Meles Alem, Director for Neighboring Countries at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia led the Ethiopian Delegation.

The Guest of Honor of the meeting, Mr. Abdorahman Yonis, the President of the Regional Council, extended a warm welcome to the Ethiopian Delegation to their second home, the City of Dikhil. He expressed his happiness to be hosting the 23rd Ethiopia-Djibouti Joint Border Administrators'/Commissioners' Meeting. The President of the Regional Council underlined the warm relations between the two peoples and the cordial relations between the two governments. The two countries, he said, had enjoyed 40 years of fruitful cooperation in areas of cross- border trade and power links and over a century with the establishment of a railway connecting the two capitals.  This, of course, had now been replaced and renewed.

The Prefect of Dikhil and host of the meeting, Mohamed Sheikho, assured the Ethiopian delegation of the readiness of the Djiboutian delegation to have candid and fruitful deliberations for the mutual benefit of the two countries. He wished the Ethiopian side an enjoyable stay in Dikhil. The Prefect also underlined that the meetings of the Border Commissioners and Administrators had proved itself time and again as an important forum to further strengthen the cordial relations between the two countries. He also stressed that the two countries shared common history and heritage.    

In his opening remarks, the Head of the Ethiopian delegation, Mr. Meles Alem expressed his gratitude to the people and government of Djibouti in general and Dikhil City Administration in particular for the warm welcome accorded to his delegation. He said that the meeting was between two peoples of the same family, and borrowed a quote from the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to describe the nature of the engagement: "Whenever Ethiopia benefits, Djibouti benefits and whenever Djibouti benefits, Ethiopia benefits". Ambassador Shamebo Fitamo, Ambassador, Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia to the Republic of Djibouti also attended the session.

The meeting underscored the longstanding and exemplary relations between the two countries, true brotherly ties and an all-rounded relationship that have withstood the test of time and circumstances. The two countries have been working together in many bilateral and multilateral fora advancing the mutual interests of both peoples. As members of the African Union, IGAD, United Nations and other international fora, they have been working together with vigor and commitment to the preservation of peace, stability, and the prosperity of their region and the continent in general. Equally, the discussions underlined the unique relationship between the two communities living along the common borders. These communities interact on a daily basis; they trade with each other; their cattle graze on the same fields; and they share common basic facilities including health centers in the border areas.

The Border Administrators/Commissioners meeting is, in fact, recognized as a platform for the communities on each side of the border to exchange ideas on how to build upon the positive achievements so far registered and to tackle common challenges for the betterment of the lives of the people who will live together for years to come. These achievements have included many real successes: the significant reduction in clashes and cattle rustling, as well as smooth border trade. Notwithstanding the necessity of further engagement, this has encouraged the different committees and institutions to meet regularly and work together in further engagement in their bid to address issues of common interest.

The two sides at the meeting acknowledged that there were still significant challenges facing their communities. They identified illegal migration, human trafficking, contraband trade, smuggling of small arms as major challenges and with broader regional impact. Criminals and terrorist groups could take advantage of such illegalities to make their way into both countries and spoil the tranquility of the people. The two sides, therefore, reiterated their unflinching determination and commitment to strengthen coordination between their institutions and security establishments in order to contain such menaces effectively. The meeting considered critically the challenges encountered and put forward ways to tackle all issues of mutual concern amicably in order to enhance their cross-border relations.

The meeting also reviewed the decisions of the 22nd Joint Border Administrators and Commissioners meeting, held in Dire Dawa last year. After discussing political, security, economic and social matters thoroughly, the two sides reaffirmed their commitment to taking the countries' relationship to even greater heights, and work to bring about more success stories by the time of their next meeting which will be held in Ethiopia next year.

Earlier in the month, the 14th Joint Ministerial Commission follow up Experts' Meeting was also held in Djibouti City between December 12 and 14. Mr. Yacin Houssein Douale, Director for Bilateral Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Djibouti led the Djiboutian delegation and Ambassador Girma Temesgen, Director General of Neighboring Countries and IGAD Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, the Ethiopian delegation.

Mr. Douale warmly welcomed the Ethiopian delegation to Djibouti City. He underlined the strong ties existing between the two countries and their peoples. He emphasized his hopes for a successful session before he declared the meeting open. Ambassador Girma Temesgen extended his thanks and heartfelt appreciation to the Government of Djibouti and its leadership for the warm reception and hospitality accorded to his delegation. He said the meeting enabled the two sides to show their unwavering commitment to the bolstering of their social, economic and political relations but also allowed them to identify the limitations on the implementation of the already agreed plans of action. The meeting, he said, helped reinvigorate their friendship and demonstrated that their relations were a matter of priority.

The two sides recalled the remarkable achievements registered in infrastructural development. The recently inaugurated railway, commissioned last month, connecting the two capitals, Addis Ababa and Djibouti, was mentioned as a case in point. Both sides made it clear that they were convinced that the infrastructural development, of roads, railways and electric power, should also be complemented by people-to-people connectivity such as culture, sport, and tourism. These were less contentious to manage but could be very productive in cementing the historic relations between the two countries.

Overall, the Experts meeting addressed political, security, economic, social, port-related and financial issues. It was adjourned in a spirit of cooperation, with the two sides showing their commitment to further deepen their relations. The next Experts meeting will be hosted in Ethiopia.