Addis Ababa (diplomat.so) - In a parliamentary address, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reiterated his country's commitment to maintaining amicable relations with neighboring Somalia, stating that Ethiopia harbors no hostile intentions towards its neighbor. This statement follows Somalia's accusations that Ethiopia sought to annex part of its territory to gain access to the sea.
The controversy arose after Ethiopia inked a contentious agreement with the Somaliland administration, a region in northwest Somalia, on January 1. Somaliland, considered an integral part of Somalia, lacks legal authority to independently engage in agreements leasing coastal territory to foreign nations.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud of Somalia condemned the deal as an act of aggression, urging the nation's youth to prepare for the defense of their homeland. Mohamud asserted that Somalia would only engage in dialogue with Ethiopia if the deal was rescinded.
Diplomatic efforts have been underway to ease tensions, emphasizing the importance of recognizing Somalia's sovereignty over all its territory. Prime Minister Abiy sought to allay concerns during his address, emphasizing the historical ties and solidarity between Ethiopia and Somalia, despite past conflicts.
Abiy attributed the escalation of tensions to external forces attempting to stoke conflict between the two nations. Nonetheless, he continued to advocate for access to the sea, asserting its potential benefits for the entire region. Abiy had previously emphasized sea access as a critical issue for Ethiopia's survival.