Ethiopia-Somalia: press sources, Djibouti and Kenya lead the mediation on the dispute for access to the sea Featured

Rumors of ongoing mediations had circulated last week, when news of a Kenyan agreement proposal to be submitted to the two contending countries was leaked

The presidents of Djibouti and Kenya, respectively Ismail Omar Guelleh e William Ruto, are facilitating "highly confidential" talks in Nairobi in an attempt to find a way out of the ongoing diplomatic impasse between Ethiopia and Somalia, linked to Ethiopia's claims for access to the sea and its rapprochement with the separatist state of Somaliland, not recognized by Mogadishu. This was revealed by sources from the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) cited by the regional press.

Rumors of ongoing mediations had circulated last week, when news of a Kenyan agreement proposal to be submitted to the two contending countries, later denied by Mogadishu, was leaked. According to what circulated in regional media, Nairobi's proposal envisaged negotiating a regional maritime resources treaty to regulate how states in the region can access ports on commercial terms. “Reports of a maritime treaty involving Somalia and Ethiopia are completely unfounded. Somalia is firm on its territorial integrity", however, the Foreign Minister of Somalia denied this, Ali Omar Balad, quoted by the information site “Horseed Media”.

According to the region's media, however, the news came from above. It was in fact confirmed to the press by the head of the Kenyan Foreign Department, Korir Sing'oei, on the sidelines of the meeting held in Nairobi between the Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the Speaker of the House, William Ruto. “We continue to engage with all parties to ensure that, ultimately, the region remains stable,” the senior official said. According to available information, the Kenyan government's proposal for a facilitated maritime agreement is being evaluated within the IGAD framework. In Kenyan intentions, the agreement would allow, while respecting Somali sovereignty, landlocked states to access regional commercial ports by sharing marine resources among Igad members.

The dispute between Somalia and Ethiopia exploded following the signing of the controversial agreement stipulated last January 20st by the Ethiopian government and the authorities of Somaliland to allow Addis Ababa access to the Red Sea, an agreement which was rejected by Mogadishu which considers it null. Under the deal, Ethiopia would be granted 50 kilometers of land along Somaliland's Gulf of Aden coast for a period of at least XNUMX years and the construction of a military base, in exchange for giving Hargheisa a share of the company of Ethiopian Airlines and of Ethiopia's recognition of the independence of Somaliland. The document triggered a bitter diplomatic crisis, which culminated in recent weeks with the recall of the Somali ambassador in Addis Ababa and the order to close the Ethiopian representations in Garoe (Puntland) and Hargheisa (Somaliland).

The memorandum would allow Addis Ababa to obtain the coveted strategic outlet to the Red Sea, an objective precluded to Addis Ababa since 1993 - the year of Eritrea's independence - and would represent a significant turning point for Ethiopian commercial exchange, offering Addis Ababa a valuable alternative route for the import and export of goods, decreasing its dependence on other ports - in particular that of Djibouti, on which it has so far depended for over 85 percent of its imports and exports - and strengthening in its regional strategic influence significantly. In an attempt to consolidate relations with friendly countries, at the end of February Somalia signed agreements with both Turkey and Djibouti, moves that seem to respond to the desire to tighten Somaliland and its Ethiopian ally. For Ankara, on the other hand, the agreements with Somalia and Djibouti are crucial to secure a front row seat at the entrance to the Red Sea, where it is seeking new commercial opportunities after its exclusion from the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor ( Imec), launched at the G20 summit in New Delhi last September.

Source: agenzianova