Ethiopia- Italy relations
Since the establishment of its federal form of government, Ethiopia has believed that the implementation of policies, strategies and laws to encourage rapid economic development, democratization and peace are a matter of survival. The government has promulgated various policies and strategies, notably in its Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy and Strategy. This makes it clear that Ethiopia's foreign relations with the rest of the world should be directed towards creating an atmosphere to encourage market opportunities, investment and technical support as well as soliciting grants and loans to finance the countrys development endeavors; eliminating, or at least, reducing external security threats; minimizing the negative effects of globalization; and resisting external threats and reducing vulnerability, with democratization being a key element. Following these basic objectives, Ethiopias foreign relations with the rest of the world including Europe have grown rapidly. It was only after putting in place the necessary mechanisms and by shifting the main focus of its relationships towards trade, investment and technology transfer that Ethiopia began to enjoy the opportunities for assistance and development available from European countries, such as Italy.
Ethiopia and Italy, of course, have overcome the problems arising from the eras of colonialism and fascism that affected their relations from time to time. The relationship between the two countries today, following the introduction of the current Foreign Policy Strategy, has seen a steadily strengthening trend in all areas. In fact, a longstanding historical relationship has been consolidated by various cooperation agreements and by a whole series of high level visits. Recent visits to Italy by Ethiopian officials have included Prime Minister Meles (2004) and former Foreign Minister Seyoum (February and April 2009). Visits by Italian officials have included visits by Prime Minister, Mr. Romano Prodi, (January 2007), and by Foreign Minister Franco Frattini (January 2010). The visit of Prime Minister Meles to Italy in 2004 was a particular landmark. Ethiopia and Italy signed agreements for a soft loan of 220 million Euros for the Gilgel Gibe II hydropower project, for the cancellation of US $432 million of debts and for the return of the Axum Obelisk. There was also the agreement for a series of regular political consultation between the two Foreign Ministries marking the opening of a new chapter in bilateral cooperation between Italy and Ethiopia.
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