Field and river

20th International Conference of Ethiopian Studies (ICES20)
Mekelle University, Ethiopia

"Regional and Global Ethiopia - Interconnections and Identities"
1-5 October, 2018

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MUZEYEN Hawas Sebsebe, Horn of Africa Strategic Study Center

The early 1990’s have shown radical revisions on the nature and structure of Ethiopia's foreign policy. Following the coming to power of the EPRDF in 1991, the government has striven to maintain a policy option for Ethiopia that is not entirely overthrown by the then dominant dogma of neoliberalism. As it is illustrated in the Foreign Affairs and National Security Policy document, promulgated in 2002, Ethiopia has to keep a constructive foreign policy engagement both with its traditional Western as well as emerging development partners such as Turkey. Past Ethiopian governments who were highly dependent on specific foreign policy partners lose their socio-political and economic policy preferences. During the feudal regime of Haile Sellasie, for instance, Western governments used their economic and political assistance to impose their interests. This imposition constrained Ethiopia’s capacity to look for alternative foreign policy partners and pursue its national interests. The same happened during the military regime of the Cold War era. Ethiopia’s full dependence on the Socialist bloc countries seriously undermines the former’s capacity to pluralize its external relation partners and safeguard the national interest. Various factors can be regarded as determinants of the post-Cold War Ethiopia’s foreign policy partner’s diversification. The nature of the foreign policy goal, which claims maintenance of sustainable development, peace and democracy as its foundation, is regarded as one of the responsible factors. Hence, those states as well as non-state partners, which assist the effort to reduce poverty, advance democratic governance and the rule of law, are prioritized as strategic foreign policy partners. Post-Cold War Ethiopia’s Foreign policy partners’ diversification, as some analysts argue, serves as a means to address the gaps associated with the past Western and/or Eastern-centric approach. And it provides for Ethiopia a relative freedom to choose its policy option. Keeping a balanced relationship with the traditional Western powers and emerging actors such as Turkey is a prerequisite for countries like Ethiopia to promote an independent foreign policy decision making. Such type of policy-making paves the way for setting and prioritizing foreign policy agendas according to the real demand of the society. Taking the post-Cold War Ethio-Turkish relations as a case analysis, this study aims to assess Ethiopia’s foreign policy partners’ diversification scheme and its implication in promoting the country’s national interest.