Ethiopias national interests have been completely redefined and re-evaluated since 1991, providing a new focus on the countrys internal vulnerabilities and problems, political and economic. The Foreign Policy and National Security Strategy identifies the major threats to Ethiopia and indeed to its survival: economic backwardness and the desperate poverty affecting a large majority of the population. The strategy also emphasizes the need for democracy and good governance and for the establishment of a democratic structure and government at all levels throughout the country. It underscores that without these Ethiopia would be unable to survive as a country and its very existence would be in doubt. Considerable progress has been made in the last six years, but more remains to be done.
With regard to bilateral relations, the policy clearly stipulates that Ethiopia will pursue engagement with all other countries on the basis of the principle of mutual interest and respect. Relations with all neighbors over the last two decades have been a testament to the seriousness with which the country has adhered to these principles. Ethiopia believes that whatever differences countries may have, issues of common concern can only be addressed on the basis of constructive engagement, of dialogue and in a manner that allows for a win-win outcome for all.
Ethiopias relationship with Egypt is one of the many bilateral relations that the government of Ethiopia has been working hard to develop along these principles. Ethiopia and Egypt, of course, have a long relationship, dating back several thousand years. Apart from the cultural and historical ties that have bound them together for centuries, both countries have been closely involved in the cause of African unity over the last five decades. Central to any relationship however has been the River Nile which has been the strong bond tying the two countries and their peoples together for millennia. The Nile can and indeed should be a source of cooperation and mutually beneficial relations between Ethiopia and Egypt in a whole number of ways. This has not, however, always been the case. Indeed, the issue of the use of the Nile water has often been a major sticking point in the relationship, a major stumbling block to any sort of robust bilateral link that might have enhanced the interests of both countries.
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