Indispensable Rights

ADDIS ABEBA/BONN | | aethiopien

ADDIS ABEBA/BONN (Own Report) - Despite international protests against massacres of the Ethiopian Police Berlin wants to confer about international cooperation among Germany and Ethiopia at the coming weekend in Addis Ababa. A respective conference was announced by the Goethe Institute in Addis Ababa. Especially development organisations are pronouncing against cooperation with the current Ethiopian government with a hint on the massacres of the governmental repression organs of the country, which claimed at least 50 lives as well as the detention of several thousand members of the opposition party. The Federal Government currently avoids open critique of the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, which allowed Berlin to exert extensive influence in Ethiopia. The German efforts in the country, which is hosting the African Union, is part of an attempt to strengthen Berlin's position all over Africa.

As the government-financed Goethe-Institute ("German Cultural Institute") announced, the German Embassy in Addis Ababa will conduct a conference in Addis Ababa from November 11th until November 14th together with the Ethiopian International Institute for Peace and Development (EIIPD). Topic of the meeting, which is part of an annual series [1], is the common treatment of international conflicts ("German and Ethiopian Contributions to Conflict Management and Resolution") [2]. EIIPD from the Ethiopian side is in charge for cooperating with the various ministries of the country, on German side the announced referees are among others a member of the Advisory board for "Civil Crisis Prevention" of the Ministry of Foreign Affars as well as the director of the gtz program office. The gtz office is restructuring the Ethiopian government and administration system between January 2005 to December 2012.

One, two, four

The close cooperation of Berlin with the government in Addis Ababa has been heavily criticized by development organisations. The Ethiopian police has already beaten down protests against presumed frauds during the parliament elections in May 2005 (at least 40 persons were killed) and shot down protesters during the past week (at least 50 persons died). Reason for the protests of the previous week was the detention of several members of opposition parties; meanwhile about 4.000 members of opposition parties have been arrested, among them several parliamentarians as well as the elected mayor of the capital. The presumption of frauds, which have been the reasons for the continuing protests, were confirmed by a study of the Institute for African Studies end of September. The paper, which was published on the web-site of the institute - german-foreign-policy.com reported about it [3] -, can no more be found there: Of the series "Afrika im Blickpunkt" ("Focal Point on Africa"), which is edited quarterly, only the volumes 1, 2 and 4 are still available.[4]

Key Positions

The director of the Institute for African Sciences was one of the participants at a conference convened by the Federal President's Office during the past weekend (5./6. November), where also the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi was present despite international protests. Zenawi was softly blamed for the police massacres in Ethiopia, Berlin would consider "certain rights" as "indispensable": Sanctions however were not taken into consideration - unlike in cases of governments that are more unpopular. Addis Ababa has been closely cooperating for quite a long time with the German government; German development organisations are on the way to send several hundreds "experts" into "key positions in industry and administration" of Ethiopia.[5]

Police Vehicles

Berlin has been cooperating with the Ethiopian repression organs already for years. Already since 1994 Germany provided the East African country with police vehicles worth about 500.000 German Marks. In the previous year the country received besides military trainings also "training and endowment support" for the criminal investigation department.[6] Neither the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Ministry for Development Cooperation criticized the presumed frauds during the elections in Ethiopia, which also were confirmed by EU-observers.[7] Up to now the Federal Republic of Germany did not yet give any comment on the death of 90 people claimed by the repression of the Ethiopian police.

Leading Roll

The German efforts in Ethiopia are part of an attempt to strengthen the position of Berlin in Eastern Africa.[8] They can be seen as part of a greater offensive to exert influence on the whole African continent. Also the conference in Bonn of the last weekend can be put into this context.[9] As the President of Nigeria and Chairman of the African Union, Olusegun Obasanjo, stated on the conference, Germany could take a "leading roll" in Africa. Obasanjo offered to Berlin to take over an especially prominent influence in the educational sector and for infrastructure.[10]

[1] see also Regionale Hegemonialmacht
[2] German and Ethiopian Contributions to Conflict Management and Resolution; www.goethe.de/ins/et/prj/pio/ver/en953256.htm
[3] see also Berater
[4] Äthiopiens Parlamentswahlen vom 15. Mai 2005: Liberalisierung wider Willen?; Afrika im Blickpunkt Nummer 3 September 2005. Das Heft ist unter www.duei.de/iak/show.php/de/ content/aktuelles/aib.html nicht mehr aufgeführt und nur noch über die cache-Funktion der Suchmaschine google zu finden.
[5] see also Schlüsselpositionen
[6] Bundestags-Drucksachen 13/1047 und 15/4574
[7] Äthiopien: Die Unruhe nach dem Sturm; taz 07.11.2005
[8] see also Soldering Technique und Sehr gut
[9] see also Offensive in Afrika
[10] Köhler fordert wirkliche Partnerschaft mit Afrika; Reuters 07.11.2005. See also Die Kongo-Bahn