From representative Torstein Tvedt Solberg (Labor Party) to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on 17 November 2020:
Question: The situation in Ethiopia has developed from bad to worse in recent days. Reports from the escalating conflict tell of closed internet and mobile networks in the conflict area, great danger of escalation and imminent danger of ethnic conflict between the country’s various ethnic groups. In light of the Nobel Peace Prize 2019, and Norway’s forthcoming seat on the UN Security Council, what role does the government now take to safeguard human rights and help scale down the level of conflict in Ethiopia?
Victoria Terrasse, Foreign Minister’s answer:
I share the Storting’s [Parliament’s ]strong concern about recent developments in Ethiopia. The increased tensions in the country are worrying, and the unrest that is now taking place in parts of the country has major consequences for the inhabitants.
Norway has a good relationship with and extensive contact with Ethiopia through our embassy in Addis Ababa, through the Ethiopian embassy in Stockholm, and through good relations at the political level. The Prime Minister visited the country earlier this year.
In our contact with the Ethiopian authorities, we emphasize the importance of safeguarding the fundamental human rights of all the country’s inhabitants, regardless of ethnic, religious or political affiliation. We also emphasize that it is crucial that the level of conflict is now reduced. In a country as complex as Ethiopia, any lasting solution will have to be based on negotiation and a willingness to compromise, and this is something we emphasize in conversations with both the authorities and with representatives of various ethnic and political groups in the country. From the Norwegian side, we have also recently raised the Oromia situation with the Ethiopian authorities.
When hostilities broke out, Norway was among the countries that quickly called for immediate de-escalation in Tigray. We have on several occasions emphasized expectations for the protection of civilian security, respect for human rights and for ensuring humanitarian access. We have also communicated clearly that the crisis can only be resolved through dialogue and called for national dialogue to be initiated. We have also given this message directly to the Ethiopian authorities. From the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we have also sent diplomats Jens-Petter Kjemprud to Addis Ababa, where he is part of a delegation led by former President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo. The purpose is to encourage the parties to a ceasefire and dialogue.
We will continue our commitment to Ethiopia in the run-up to and during our membership of the UN Security Council. This applies both in our direct, bilateral cooperation, and through the UN, other multilateral organizations, as well as Norwegian, local and international voluntary organizations.