President Dr. Mulatu Teshome received their Royal Highnesses, Crown Prince Magnus and Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, on Tuesday this week (November 7) at the National Palace. The Crown Prince and Princess were on a state visit to Ethiopia. Following their arrival, the Crown Prince held discussions with President Dr. Mulatu, Ministers and high-level officials of the Ethiopian government. President Mulatu noted that the Crown Prince and Princess’s visit to Ethiopia would expand bilateral relations between the two countries and have a significant impact on trade, investment and other relationships. The two sides discussed ways to elevate the historic links between Ethiopia and Norway to a new level.
President Dr. Mulatu commended the number of Norwegian companies actively engaging with development in Ethiopia. These included Norfund, Yara International, Nera and Mester Gronn, The President urged the need to work closely to further reinforce bilateral ties, adding that: “Ethiopia offers outstanding business opportunities in many areas including agriculture, manufacturing, construction, mining and mineral exploration as well as other areas.” He expressed his hopes that Ethiopia and Norway further bolster their bilateral relations in a wide range of areas.
Crown Prince Magnus expressed Norway’s strong desire to have robust cooperative relations with Ethiopia. He said “Our strong bilateral relationship is built on longstanding friendship between our two countries. Today our mutual interests cover areas such as combating climate change, managing migration, securing access to education, investing in health, creating jobs and promoting sustainable and inclusive development”. He also highlighted that Ethiopia was an important partner to Norway, noting: “We share a strong belief in a UN-led world order, and in the importance of seeking joint solutions to shared challenges, such as climate change”. He reiterated that Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals provided an overarching framework for the two countries joint efforts.
The discussions also covered cooperation and partnership between the two countries in areas of private sector engagement. The two sides exchanged views on peace and security matters with reference to South Sudan and Somalia. They agreed on the importance of working together to consolidate peace and stability in the region.
President Dr. Mulatu and the Crown Prince, who was accompanied by a high-level business delegation, opened an Ethiopian-Norway Business Seminar later in the day. The seminar was organized to encourage Norwegian and Ethiopian companies looking to establish new partnerships and explore new opportunities in the Ethiopian market. An agreement was signed by Yara International to lay the foundation for large-scale potash production at its Dallol potash mine in the Afar Regional State. The agreement was signed by the Minister of Mines, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Motuma Mekassa, and the President and CEO of Yara International, Mr. Svein Tore Holsether, who said: “We are glad to achieve this key milestone in the Dallol mining project. A mine in the Afar region would contribute significantly to economic development locally and nationally. We recognize and appreciate the efforts made by the Ethiopian government in supporting the project, both by providing necessary infrastructure and through making the mining agreement possible.”
The Crown Prince and Princess also visited the African Union Commission and met with the AU Commission Chairperson, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat. The AU Commission Chairperson commended Norway for its longstanding support for priority sectors in Africa and said he looked forward to strengthening existing cooperation and private sector investment in Africa’s emerging economic sectors such as the Blue Economy of which Norway is a global leader. The Chairperson pointed that Africa had more than 30 coastal and island Member States that could greatly benefit by harnessing opportunities presented by the Blue Economy. The Crown Prince also addressed the AU’s Permanent Representative Committee and invited guests from the diplomatic corps, International Organizations and civil society. Focusing on the strong historic relations between Norway and the African continent, he underlined the strategic partnership between Norway and the AU, and issues of common global interest, such as human rights, gender equality, health, education and climate partnership, as well as private sector promotion and development.
The Crown Prince noted that the pursuit of global peace has long been a priority for Norway, as has ensuring respect for human dignity and emphasized that Norway was keen to further strengthen its cooperation with the African Union on peace and security. He noted that AU and Norway had an extensive partnership on peace and security and described this as the first pillar of the partnership between them. The other two pillars, he said, were good governance and human rights and sustainable development and job creation. Among the areas for cooperation was Norway’s support for strengthening AU’s civilian capacity for peace support operations, conflict prevention and mediation. The Crown Prince hailed the AU’s achievements in addressing peace and security, and said: “The AU has shown leadership in addressing peace and security, the first pillar of our partnership. A lot has already been achieved,” and he saluted “all those who are working to protect the innocent and to combat violent extremism, including the many brave African peacekeepers.” He underlined Norway’s direct engagement in peace and reconciliation in a number of countries, adding that, “more often than not, Norway seeks to promote peace by supporting other actors such as the UN regional and sub-regional organizations, including the AU and IGAD, national governments and NGOs.” He also said that Norway was a candidate for a seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2021-2022, and he hoped would “provide an opportunity to further strengthen our relationship with the AU on peace and security issues.”
During his visit, the Crown Prince met with the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ms. Eziakonwa-Onochie, and country representatives of various UN agencies, including UNDP, UNOCHA, UNHCR, IOM, WFP and UNICEF. He opened the Ethiopian-Norwegian Conference of Health and Higher Education, and visited the Sustainable Land Management Project site in Oromia Regional State where he was welcomed by the State Ministers of Finance and Economic Cooperation, and of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The Crown Prince and Princess also met with Norwegian civil society representatives in Ethiopia and visited the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission where they spoke with Commissioner Dr. Addisu Gebregziabher and other members of the Commission. The Crown Prince and Princess concluded their visit to Ethiopia by going to Axum in Tigray Regional State and visiting the Hitsats refugee camp for Eritrean refugees at Shire.
During Crown Prince and Princess’ visit, Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Eriksen Søreide, announced that Norway was providing a further NOK 10 million (US$1.2 million) for people affected by drought in Ethiopia. She said: “The humanitarian situation in parts of Ethiopia is dire as a result of long-term drought. Norway is now providing a further NOK 10 million in aid to people in need, and will consider providing additional support on an ongoing basis.” Ms. Eriksen Søreide added: “The droughts we have seen in recent years in parts of Ethiopia show the immense humanitarian suffering climate change can cause in poor areas. In the face of increasingly frequent droughts, we must help to meet the acute humanitarian needs, while also seeking to prevent new crises.” Norway has provided a total of NOK 79 million in humanitarian support to Ethiopia already this year. Norway’s aid is channeled through the UN, the Red Cross and Crescent and Norwegian humanitarian organizations, among them the Norwegian Refugee Council and a group of civil society organizations led by Norwegian Church Aid.