France’s Macron vows to back Ethiopia’s reforms

paris 2Abiy Ahmed met French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday 29 October, on his first official visit to Europe since taking office in April.

In a joint declaration issued by Prime Minister Abiy and President Macron, the two leaders have agreed to cooperate in a wide range of issues. Abiy said he expects Macron to play a key role in peacemaking efforts between neighbouring Eritrea and Djibouti, which have agreed last month to normalise ties a decade after a border standoff that led to a brief military conflict.

He also vowed to tackle the violence gripping some parts of Ethiopia, saying it would be resolved through “greater peace-building in the whole country”.

Macron and Abiy also pledged to increase cultural cooperation, especially on World Heritage sites such as the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. France will contribute to the maintenance and renovation of the site.

“We will be by at your side in your efforts to open policies, unification of the country, calming domestic tensions. We will be by your side in your efforts of economic transformation and liberalisation. We will be there for the regional pacification you are leading”, Macron said.

“You have here a country which loves your but also admires the transformation you are carrying out”.

“I know how much he has risked to see these reforms through and how much these reforms are fraught with difficulties, but also how much Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has chosen a courageous path,” Macron told reporters.

He added that the political, economic, social and cultural transformation that the Abiy leadership is in the process of carrying out and committed to Ethiopia is unprecedented.

Ethiopia’s new leader “chose a courageous path, we will stand by his side,” Macron reaffirmed at a news conference.

President Macron announced he would visit Ethiopia in March.