Ambassador Dina Mufti, Spokesperson and Director General for Public Diplomacy at the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sat down with Horn Review to discuss Ethiopia’s diplomatic standing in the region and reiterated Ethiopia’s current position regarding the tripartite GERD negotiations. The spokesperson also provided insight into some of the government’s challenges in effectively providing relief to Afar and Amhara victims of TPLF aggression in recent months.


Ambassador, thank you for taking the time to speak to us. Could you speak to the current situation in the north, specifically, the escalating conflict in Afar and parts of the Amhara region as well as the government’s role in delivering critical aid? Additionally, is the Ethiopian government working with international partners in this effort?

Ambassador Dina:

The renewed provocation on the part of the TPLF continues to impact innocent civilians and disrupt their livelihoods. Though the government has allocated funds for relief efforts, the hostile group continues to impede the delivery of relief not only to Tigray but also to the conflict-affected zones in Afar and Amhara regions. In addition to funds and resources allocated to these regions, we are doing our level best to create unimpeded access. This is a priority for the Ethiopian government and remains the interest of the international community.

As Ethiopians, we believe that the people should be helped, and we are primarily concerned with their welfare and security. Unfortunately, this group has been impeding, if not halting, our efforts. This fact should not only be widely acknowledged but thoroughly condemned, as delivery of assistance is contingent upon access to conflict-affected areas. This is the current reality, and we need to consider these facts and call a spade a spade.

We are indeed working with international partners, like the WFP. However, as Amhara and Afar regions are most severely affected by TPLFs aggression, we call on our partners and stakeholders to place heavier emphasis on efforts to relief destinations in these regions. Though some gaps in aid and delivery are expected, there remains a visible gap between the urgent need on the ground and existing efforts in meeting them.


What does the government hope to achieve in the tentatively planned national dialogue?

Ambassador Dina:

We hope for this all-inclusive national dialogue to take place at every gamut of society. Aimed at addressing some of our core differences, it is not exclusively a dialogue among elites, but also one that takes place at the grassroots level. It is clear that there are many latent grievances in our society that, if left unaddressed, will continue to manifest in violence. Ethiopia’s recent, and long-enduring, societal, political, cultural, and economic cleavages all require dialogue and consensus-building on each of these levels. This remains our very objective so as to finally lay to rest long-running, some centuries-old, misunderstandings that have lodged our society in a cycle of conflict and delayed its progress. We hope this national dialogue creates a conducive environment to build a lasting peace on the foundation of mutual understanding. I would also like to iterate those designated as terrorists by parliament will not be participating in this process given their antithetical cause which does not align with the goal of an all-inclusive dialogue.

Aimed at addressing some of our
core differences, it is not exclusively
a dialogue among elites, but
also one that takes place at the
grassroots level.


Given the recent news of Ethiopia’s successful completion of turbine testing of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), can you share the Government’s subsequent plans? In that regard, what is Ethiopia’s position on the GERD tripartite negotiations under the auspices of the African Union?

Ambassador Dina:

As a diplomat, I am not privy to all the technical details of the project. However, I can confirm that we have successfully completed testing of the turbines and we anticipate the GERD to start early power generation with limited turbines. This is quite an achievement for the Ethiopian people, and I may add, for all friends of Ethiopia.

The building process is designed such that the construction and filling processes are sequential: each step being contingent upon the previous one. The reservoir filling stages are only a step in the logical sequence of the construction process. Non-experts, in their surface-level analysis, seem to present these two steps as separate processes, especially in the context of the filing process. In this regard, there are no agreements – even of a tacit nature – between the parties that would prevent the continuation of this project.

Since its inauguration in April 2011, Ethiopia has made its intention for the GERD very clear: Ethiopia wishes to use its natural resource to generate and provide power for the nearly 70 percent of its population that is living in darkness, and without basic access to electricity. I would like to reiterate that Ethiopia has no intention, nor does it intend to, harm downstream riparians, namely Egypt and Sudan. Since the Nile is a transboundary resource, we want this project to be a source of cooperation- not a source of friction or conflict. This is consistent not only with our position on the GERD but also with our vision for greater regional integration.

As it pertains to the AU-led negotiations, Ethiopia remains fully committed to the tripartite talks with Sudan and Egypt. To my knowledge, the process that was underway is temporarily on pause for two reasons: first, due to the transfer of the African Union Chairmanship from H.E. Felix- Antoine Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo to President Macky Sall of Senegal. We hope that the GERD talks, under the new chairman, will build upon the good progress made under the previous chairman. Secondly, the current unfortunate unrest in Sudan is yet another reason for the temporary pause of the GERD negotiations.

Ethiopia hopes for swift stability and normalization in the region and we certainly intend to continue once the process resumes. In recent talks, we have noted that our negotiating partners no longer go in and out of the process at will, and it is our hope that they will negotiate in good faith until we can arrive at a finalized document. There are technical issues that we somehow managed to overcome, but there remain some legal issues that we are yet to tackle. I am confident that we can narrow the gaps, in this same fashion- and reach a win-win solution.


How would you describe current Ethio-Sudanese relations?

Ambassador Dina: Ethiopia and Sudan share a long history of mutual support.

Most recently, you will remember the Prime Minister‘s significant role in the reconciliation of the political elite and the establishment of Sudan’s Sovereign Council through the provision of his good offices. Similarly, when Ethiopians were faced with hardships, they were met with a warm welcome from their Sudanese neighbors. The Sudanese leadership, be it due to extraneous factors or imposing parties, has opted to encroach on sovereign land. Ethiopia continues to push for a speedy resolution to this particular issue through existing regional mechanisms, i.e. IGAD.

In what concerns people-to-people relations, our peoples have a lot to learn and benefit from working together. This is why Sudan’s current turmoil and our strained relations, primarily caused by the country’s military rulers, do not measure up to our past history and future potential.


What would you say are this Ministry’s top foreign policy priorities going forward?

Ambassador Dina: Since many of our goals are interlinked, it is difficult to identify a single foreign policy objective, as a goal of its own. In broad strokes, I would have to say that our primary goal in 2022 is the re-engagement of the international community. Reengaging the international community pertains to our bilateral and multilateral commitments and our interests in creating long-term partnerships and development projects on a continual basis. Given the varied needs of the country, we plan to fully engage with international partners without bias or prejudice.

The reservoir filling stages are only a step in the logical sequence of the construction process.

Reconstruction is an equally important priority for the Ministry as we see it as a pillar in our efforts to usher in peace and stability. To this end, we ask our allies and friends to support our efforts in reconstructing, mending, and bringing in much-needed normalcy. In the context of the current conflict, Ethiopia will continue to familiarize the international community, our partners in particular, with the facts on the ground, as well as subsequent developments on the part of the government.