The 15th Djibouti-Ethiopian Joint Ministerial Commission meeting was held at the end of last month (January 30-31) in Djibouti.
LONDON, United Kingdom, February 18, 2019 – The meeting was held in a spirit of brotherhood that reflected the excellent relations between the two countries. At the same time, it also provided a unique platform for both countries, to serve as a venue for the determination of both governments to demonstrate a renewed resolution to continue to play a pivotal role in the progress of the Horn of Africa and of Africa. Both governments are, after all, engaged in a process of reform aimed, inter alia, to encourage their nationals to engage fully and practically in the creation of employment opportunity for youth, expand the structures of democracy, buttress ongoing economic progress, and respect the rights of the people.
This Joint Ministerial Commission meeting was an opportune occasion to showcase the renewed commitment of both countries to resolve all pressing issues, and underline their determination to work closely together on peace and stability in the region and to support economic development and regional integration.
The Ethiopian side commended the Government of Djibouti for taking steps to improve relations with Eritrea. Djibouti appreciated Prime Minister Dr Abiy’s bold moves to encourage tranquility in the region. The initiatives for peace provided a firm jumping off point to encourage youth to participate in the current wind of hope, change and confidence. The agreements reached clearly demonstrated the deep-seated commitment of both governments to encourage prosperity of their peoples. They included bolstering cooperation on criminal matters, formulating plans for ensuring regular, safe and orderly migration on the basis of the spirit of the Marrakech Agreement, and producing a new comprehensive agreement on labor issues, as well as enhancing existing cooperation on peace and security issues bilaterally and within the frame work of IGAD, the African Union and the United Nations.
The Joint Ministerial Commission in fact provided an important venue to underline the need to work closely together to revive the economy of areas that shared a common border and improve the conditions and ways of life of the populations on both sides of the border. There was strong awareness that this would give further impetus towards reinforcing already deep-rooted people-to-people ties. Similarly, aiming to further concretize the ties, a new level of cooperation was reached to exchange instructors and youth experts in such areas of logistics and transport, forestry, engineering, and language teaching.
The second distinctive feature of the Joint Ministerial Commission meeting was that it served as a venue to navigate the future of this symbolic cooperation and make clear the way forward for moving towards the dream of the “Africa we want in 2063.” Important milestones like the Continental Free Trade Area brokered by the African Union and signed up to by 44 of its 55 member states, in Kigali last year, can best be materialized if meaningful efforts are undertaken at regional level. Allowing free access to commodities, goods, and services across the continent are prerequisites to African unity. This was clearly shown by Ethiopia and Djibouti, both signatories to the CFTA, in expediting implementation of their bilateral Border Trade Protocol and General Trade Agreement at the JMC meeting.
Both sides have scaled up the gains achieved in port operation and transportation. They have made great efforts to remove impediments to enhance the efficiency of the port and ensure effective utilization of transport links. Enhancement of the quality of operations as well as completing interconnection projects, and initiating new phases of railway projects to augment integration, were discussed in detail. Joint mechanisms have been put in place. Both sides agreed that completion of infrastructure projects was essential to fast-tracking economic integration. They agreed to work to launch the natural gas pipeline project by fast-tracking technical issues.
Overall, the 15th Djibouti-Ethiopia Joint Ministerial Commission meeting clearly provided the opportunity for an important dialogue and a realistic working platform to further speed up the pace of cooperation and economic integration. It called for credible steps to resolve any outstanding issues, agreeing to implement solutions to encourage the continued upward spiral of economic links and joint peace and stability. It emphasized the need to forge closer follow-up of agreements, and to hone capacity to manage the systems underpinning prosperity and security. The meeting strongly underlined the value of holding bilateral dialogues regularly to encourage the advancement of the joint common agenda for the greater common good.