And Welcomes Peaceful SL-Somalia Resolutions
By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The Ethiopian Consulate in Hargeisa, Somaliland, issues an average of 60 visas on a daily basis for Somaliland and Somalia passport holders.
This was informed by the head of Public diplomacy and Diaspora affairs, Mulugeta Anagaw, during an interview with Somalilandsun at his Hargeisa office where he also informed that his government which welcomes peaceful dissent will not hesitate to take legitimate action when Ethiopia’s security is at risk.
On the issue of ongoing dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia whose fifth phase concluded with Istanbul II Communique in Turkey last week, Mulugeta Anagaw said his country welcomes the peaceful resolution of any differences existing between them.
Read Below the full and verbatim excerpts of the interview
Q. Kindly brief on the issuance of Visas to your country by the Ethiopian consulate in Hargeisa
Currently we are receiving over 100 visa applications on a daily basis of which 20 or so belong to holders of foreign passports and the rest to holders of passports issued either by the government of Somaliland or Somalia.
To this effect we manage to issue an average of 60 visas to local passport holders sprinkled with a few for foreign passport holders because we prefer sending the foreign citizens to Addis Ababa if they are holders of passports from countries having visa on arrival consideration with Ethiopia. Note that we are among the few countries that do not require a round trip air ticket from the Somali communities as a condition for issuing entry visas to Ethiopia.
Q. Why is it that less than half the applicants are issued visas?
This comes from the process of elimination in relation to pre-set conditions which is not exclusive to Ethiopia but a norm practiced worldwide.
Q. Of late there have been reports that persons issued visas by this (Hargeisa) consulate have been arrested in Zone 5 regional Administrative region of Ethiopia, and promises of intervention by your boss, the Ethiopian general Consul in Somaliland, Brigadier Berhe Tesfaye, what is the status?
Yes, a few persons holding visas issued by us were reportedly arrested in Jigjiga and released immediately after satisfactory investigations by the regional security agents and subsequent intervention by Brigadier Berhe.
It is worth mentioning that such arrests do not happen on a regular basis but were occasioned by the high security alert in all of Ethiopia to the run-up and during the national cultural festival held in the zone 5 regional capital of Jigjiga recently.
Q. Both Addis Ababa and Hargeisa authorities are inundated with illegal immigration, what are you as Ethiopians doing and what is your arrangement with the Hargeisa administration?
The Ethiopian government has established a committee which in partnership with other stakeholders like regional administrations, district heads and non-state actors is currently preparing to start nationwide public awareness campaigns geared towards educating citizens on the ills of illegal migration.
The committee is also tasked with negotiations with labour hungry countries like Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and others in the EU where our citizens in want of jobs migrate to in view of establishing their legality especially for the skilled ones. This we hope shall negate continuous reports of maltreatment.
As part of this campaign the consulate here (Somaliland) has been meeting with various groups of Ethiopian citizens in Hargeisa and other towns like Borame the latest being on the 24th January when we held discussions with the Oromo community.
AS for our engagement with the Hargeisa authorities, the Ethiopian government was aware of the misfortunes of few Somalilanders trying to immigrate to Europe illegally and putting their lives at risk in the harsh deserts and we on various occasions and in collaboration with the Somaliland authorities have returned few youngsters who were trying to cross into deserts of Sudanese borders through Ethiopia. Those Somalilanders living in Ethiopia feels as if they are living home and we provide full protection.
Q. In General how is your relationship with the Somaliland authorities in Hargeisa?
Q. Does your security cooperation entail the harassment of Ethiopian dissidents living in Somaliland which is known to have occurred in the past?
First and foremost it is very important to understand that the right to differing political opinion is enshrined in the Ethiopian constitution thus enshrined the right to exercise divergent thoughts but in a peaceful manner.
So whoever individual or group that chooses to exercise its views in a non-peaceful method is contravening the constitution and the Ethiopian government which has the legitimate mandate to protect and uphold the said constitution shall not hesitate to take appropriate and legitimate action within its borders. In fact cross border actions are legitimate when seen from the perspective of international law as fighting organized crimes and acts of terrorism require cross border cooperation.
Construed from this perspective, Ethiopia and Somaliland have a well established arrangement of extradition of criminals. Our desire is to have a more broad cooperation whereby it entails joint activities against un-peaceful and violent Ethiopian dissidents hiding themselves in Somaliland and vice versa.
Q. Isn’t Ethiopia in contravention of international agreements it is signatory to, like the one on rights of refugees if it acts on citizens of its country registered with UNHCR as reported to be the case in Somaliland?
The Constitution of Ethiopia and the security of Ethiopians are of paramount importance to the government in Ethiopia and any transgressions necessitate the overlapping of some arrangements. And as I tried to explain above, international law provides legitimacy to fighting organized crimes and acts of terrorism within and across borders. This attaches an obligation to any entity to cooperate as any measures against perpetrators of crime including terrorism are considered as part of positive global responses of ensuring peace and stability. In fact this happens in rare occasions, and as a matter of chance there had been no singular incidence occurred so far from our side.
Q. So Ethiopia must be very active in such activities worldwide considering the profusion of publicly declared dissidents hosted by several countries?
No, in actual fact the dissidents you are referring to are few like the Admiral who purports to be in-charge of the Ogaden NationalLiberation Front-ONLF which is currently out of commission after most of its members have taken advantage of the amnesty and joined the zone 5 regional administration of Ethiopia.
Of the other publicly declared dissidents from Ethiopia shouting slogans in foreign capitals such as the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) they are mostly economical refugees who cheated their way to asylum under the guise of politically related fears in their Country which incidentally has over 70 political parties legally registered and in active existence.
For these few loud mouths the Ethiopian government has no time for them as it is more interested in alleviating the living standards of its citizens thence negate the need for political fears to be used as a means of satisfying economical needs.
On the other hand Ethiopia whose economy is among the fastest growing in the world has broad plans of poverty alleviation thence negate any cross border movements in each of menial work by its citizens in addition to exercising a shared growth with neighboring countries for mutual benefits for one cannot grow alone and expect to wand of difficulties.
At the same time this is in fact why the Ethiopian General Consul Brigadier Berhe Tesfaye has devoted a lot of ties and efforts in trying to reach out to the large number of Ethiopians who cross the border into Somaliland in search of work but end up requesting for political asylum.
Q. Finally how do you assist Ethiopians resident in Somaliland?
For those having legal status, our consulate in conjunction with the somaliland ministries of interior, labour and foreign affairs will continue working hard to ensure all their rights as foreigners are protected but as for those entering the country illegally the Consulate nor Brigadier Berhe can interfere in case of difficulties. In fact we have succeeded in addressing any challenges based on understanding with the Somaliland authorities. We are really grateful for the Somaliland side and will continue to maintain the reciprocity.
Thank you very much Counsellor Mulugeta Anagaw