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Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Minister of Foreign affairs, Dr Tedros Adhanom visited France and met with French President François Hollande as well as 50 French business from the MEDEF-International.
PM Hailemariam was on his first European visit as prime minister, starting with Brussels where the Premier held consultations with ambassadors of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries based in Brussels.
During their meeting in Paris on 19th April, the two heads of state talked about bilateral issues between the two countries and regional issues in Africa.
“I want to emphasize the on special role Ethiopia plays in the resolution of conflicts in Africa. I also want to point out the necessary intervention of Ethiopia in Somalia to help this country, which saw destabilization for too many years, to find safety. I also know that Ethiopia is working with us to find a solution in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and I am pleased that the MONUSCO (United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo) could be strengthened in its mandate allowing hence that the United Nations can ensure greater protection for the population in the conflict area of the DRC,” François Hollande said in a press briefing held in his Elysee palace.
He further thanked Ethiopia for its support to his government during France’s intervention in Mali.
“I have confidence in the economic development of Africa. Africa is a continent of the future. Africa is a continent of growth. Africa is not just an accumulation of significant natural resources. It is not simply a population, it is a young population. And Ethiopia is one of the most dynamic countries in Africa having long been in a situation of poverty caused by conflict. France must invest in Ethiopia. French companies are present particularly in the field of energy and infrastructure. But we must do more. The level of our trade is not up to what we can expect from France and hope for the development of Ethiopia,” Hollande further said.
On his part Hailemariam said that France is playing a big role in security and peace keeping in Africa. “With regards to peace and security, France is very important for Africa. We welcome and thank France for its support to peace and stability in Africa, especially at this time in Mali and the Central African Republic. The support of France in other parts of Africa, including the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia is invaluable,” Hailemariam said.
The African Union is also very committed to issues of climate change. We want to work with France in this respect, including the 2015 meeting on climate change. France has really worked hard on the issue of climate change which is very important to Africa, a continent that, contributes very little to global warming, Hailemariam further said.
The two leaders also discussed the issue of the Nile and neighboring countries that use this natural resource. “The Nile could be enough for all of us if we cooperate and find an approach that works for everyone. We can, indeed, use the Nile waters without prejudice to other countries, particularly Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream countries,” the PM stressed.
“I believe a win-win solution is always a better approach, which is also a new approach. In this regards Ethiopia is fully ready to work closely with France to find, once again, a win-win solution for the use of the Nile water,” explained the Premier.
Hailemariam also called on French companies to invest in Ethiopia and Africa. “During this century, economic attention should really be focused on Africa and I really invite French companies to invest in Africa especially in my country where opportunities are many. We attach great importance to investors who wish to come to our country.”
France is organizing Africa-France Summit in December this year. This was revealed during the meetin of the two head of states.
During their short stay, Tedros Adhanom also met with his counterpart Minister of Foreign affairs of France, Laurent Fabius on 18th April and held bilateral discussions.
A group of French businessmen numbering 50 organized under the umbrella of Medef-International, met with PM Hailemariam Dessalegn on Friday 19th April.
During the meeting, Hailemariam unveiled Ethiopia’s economic policy and priority projects. He further explained his government’s expectations from foreign partners, including those operating in Ethiopia.
Foreign investments is very much encouraged in the sectors of industry, agriculture and agro-industry.
EU Parliament head
During his brief visit in Belgium, Hailemariam held consultations with ambassadors of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries based in Brussels, where he called for the joint forum of European Union and developing nations to focus on activities which consolidate peace and development.
He urged ACP countries to remain committed to peace saying it is a prerequisite for development.
During his stay in Brussels, Hailemariam also held talks with the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz. Schulz in a statement said “Ethiopia is a key EU ally in the Horn of Africa. I greet the peaceful transition after the death of PM Meles Zenawi last year and pay tribute to Ethiopia’s leading diplomatic and security role in the region and in the whole of Africa,” he said. He further congratulated Hailemariam for its chairmanship of the African Union, its mediating role between Sudan and South Sudan and its support for counter-piracy operation and greater stability in Somalia.”
The president further said “Our conversation was open and constructive. I have shared with the Prime Minister my concerns, and those of many of my colleagues, on anti-terrorist legislation and the cases of jailed journalists in the country, such as Eskinder Nega or Reeyot Alemu. I also took note of the commitment of the Prime Minister to strengthen democracy in the country, allowing for greater pluralism and a freer civil society, to uphold the freedoms enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution.”