Ethiopia and Somaliland close to closing controversial agreement

Ethiopia and Somaliland close to closing controversial agreement


HARGEISA, Somalia – The government of Ethiopia and the breakaway region of Somaliland are close to finalizing the controversial agreement signed in January 2024, officials said, despite resistance from members of the international community, who have questioned the legality and legitimacy of the agreement.

But officials representing both parties maintain that the agreement will be updated soon and that Ethiopia will establish a naval base along the Red Sea, inside Somalia. Ethiopia will also begin construction of the port after having leased the land for 50 years.

In exchange, Ethiopia will become the first country to recognize Somaliland as a sovereign country, and the region’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Essa Kayd, maintained that the process is at an advanced stage.

These talks follow a memorandum of understanding signed between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi four months ago. The agreement was declared “illegal” by Somalia and has since sought international support to “thwart” Ethiopian aggression.

Kayd informed Deutsche Welle that negotiations continue and that technical committees have been appointed since the signing. However, he revealed that the process slowed down during Ramadan. He expressed confidence that the talks will be concluded in the next two months, Addis Standard reports.

Recognition, according to Saad Ali, Somaliland’s finance minister, could give Somaliland a voice internationally and open opportunities for investment, trade, travel and development. It would also potentially allow Somaliland to obtain loans from international financial institutions.

Minister Kayd has confirmed that three potential areas have been identified, but declined to reveal them until further talks with his Ethiopian counterparts are concluded.

The memorandum between Somaliland and Ethiopia has faced opposition from the Federal Government of Somalia, which has accused Ethiopia of attempting to undermine Somalia’s territorial integrity. The Group of Seven (G7) countries have also expressed concern and encouraged dialogue between Somalia and Ethiopia to resolve tensions.

The Arab League of Nations has maintained that it would support Somalia if Ethiopia pursued its expansionist ideals, which contravene international law. Turkey is willing to deploy warships in Somali waters as part of the agreement to protect Somalia from Ethiopian aggression.