German FM Steinmeier to Ethiopian officials: “Economic development and democracy cannot be divided”

28 Mar

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory
DW interview with the Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier: “Politics is our Africa priority

Steinmeier’s talks in Ethiopia (here with foreign minister Teodros Adhanom) touched on human rights (Credit: DW)

Deutsche Welle: The situation in Ukraine is very tense and there’s a dangerous crisis in Europe: is this the right time for a trip to Africa? Are you able to concentrate on the countries you’re visiting?

    Frank-Walter Steinmeier:

    It’s not as if we would ever have the chance to concentrate on one conflict in the world and close everything else off. But at the current time, in the current situation, it’s particularly difficult to leave the conflict in the Ukraine behind and concentrate entirely on Africa. We are of course continually in contact with Berlin and with the German embassy in Kyiv. All the same, it is very important that we show our respect for the three African countries we’re visiting, and that we also show that other things aren’t always more important than they are.

Deutsche Welle:

Have we in the past spoken too often about speaking as equals, while we’ve shown too little respect?

Frank-Walter Steinmeier::

    What is certain is that Africa has changed faster than our perception of Africa. That doesn’t mean that the African continent has suddenly become a continent with a prosperous economy, free democracy and human rights. But it has perhaps become more varied. There are still the hot spots: bilateral conflicts between states, and often conflicts between a state and ethnic and religious minorities. There’s all that. But we shouldn’t overlook any more that there are increasingly areas of stability – even bilateral or regional cooperation. That’s a development which we in Europe have always wanted to see.

Deutsche Welle:

We always say that German foreign policy is guided by values and interests. How do you speak about human rights issues, for example, in Ethiopia – a country in which virtually no opposition is allowed?

Frank-Walter Steinmeier::

    We have dealt with that intensively with the Ethiopian prime minister, who was very capable of arguing his position. He insists on a specifically Ethiopian path. We agree about the long term goals: the Ethiopian government also wants democracy and respect for human rights. But Germany and Europe have had a century of development behind them. Ethiopia will definitely not need as long as that. We have heard what they had to say and have pointed out that, in our experience, economic development and democracy can’t be divided from each other.


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