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Procedure : 2020/2881(RSP)
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Texts tabled :

RC-B9-0383/2020

Debates :

PV 26/11/2020 - 8.2
CRE 26/11/2020 - 8.2

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Texts adopted :

P9_TA(2020)0330

Debates
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Thursday, 26 November 2020 - Brussels Revised edition

8.2. Situation in Ethiopia
Video of the speeches
PV
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  President. – The next item is the debate on seven motions for resolutions on the situation in Ethiopia (2020/2881(RSP)).

 
  
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  Lars Patrick Berg (ID), Verfasser. – Herr Präsident! Ich denke, wir sind uns schnell darin einig, dass die humanitäre Krise sehr schnell in eine humanitäre Katastrophe umschlagen kann.

Äußerste Sorge bereitet mir, dass sich die äthiopische Regierung dazu entschlossen hat, den Aufruf der internationalen Gemeinschaft zur Deeskalation zu ignorieren, und ihr Vorgehen mit der Behauptung rechtfertigt, es handle sich um eine schnellere Operation. Ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob eine schnellere Tötung von Menschen etwas an der Legitimität dieser Politik ändert.

In der Geschichte Äthiopiens ist es immer wieder vorgekommen, dass Äthiopier andere Äthiopier töten. Aus diesem Grund sieht die äthiopische Verfassung sogar Sezession vor, was nahezu einzigartig ist. Die derzeitige Regierung scheint fest zu einem völkermörderischen Konflikt entschlossen zu sein, nachdem sie sich über ihre eigene Verfassung hinwegsetzt. Zu erwähnen ist auch, dass die äthiopische Regierung aus Tigray stammenden Mitgliedern der äthiopischen Streitkräfte, die sich an der AMISOM beteiligen, die Waffen abgenommen hat. Hiervon kann nur Al-Shabaab profitieren.

 
  
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  Miguel Urbán Crespo, autor. – Señor presidente, señor comisario, como usted sabe, la guerra en Etiopía está provocando una gran crisis humanitaria en la región. Más de cuarenta mil personas refugiadas en Sudán y miles de desplazadas internamente en un país donde más de quince millones de personas dependían ya de la ayuda humanitaria.

Es vital acordar un alto el fuego inmediato, exigir la protección de los civiles y apoyar un diálogo inclusivo entre todas las partes. Hay que poner fin a toda injerencia externa en el conflicto, desde Eritrea hasta los países de la cuenca del Nilo.

Pero, si de verdad queremos contribuir a la paz y la estabilidad del país, hay que ir más allá. Hay que cancelar la deuda y hay que dejar de condicionar la ayuda humanitaria al control migratorio, porque la paz y la estabilidad solo pueden lograrse con el pleno respeto de las libertades económicas, sociales, civiles y políticas. Y esto pasa por acabar con la pobreza en el país y con las desigualdades que asolan Etiopía.

 
  
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  Carlos Zorrinho, Autor. – Senhor Presidente, há pouco mais de um ano, saudámos com alegria a atribuição do Prémio Nobel ao Primeiro-Ministro etíope Abye Ahmed pelo seu trabalho em favor da promoção da paz e da cooperação e pelo seu papel na resolução do conflito transfronteiriço entre o seu país e a Eritreia.

É por isso, com constrangimento, que vimos hoje a transição democrática iniciada na Etiópia ser posta em causa pela escalada do conflito sangrento entre o Governo Federal e a administração regional do Tigray.

O conflito tem que ser cessado e mediado com urgência, através do diálogo democrático, evitando a morte de centenas de civis inocentes, deslocações massivas, ou seja, o atropelo dos direitos humanos e da liberdade de imprensa e o surgimento de uma crise humanitária global.

Esta resolução, que agregou um largo consenso negocial, é um apelo forte às partes em confronto para que promovam a reposição da legalidade democrática, assegurando o restabelecimento da normalidade constitucional e da paz na Etiópia.

Exorta os governos federais e regionais do país, bem como todos os países vizinhos, para que se abstenham de novas mobilizações militares ou ameaças e se empenhem num diálogo sincero, pacífico e inclusivo.

E convoca ainda a União Europeia e os seus Estados—Membros para que desenvolvam todos os esforços diplomáticos junto das autoridades federais e regionais dos países contíguos e das instituições multilaterais para proteger os civis em risco e assegurar o seu acesso à ajuda humanitária, que tem que ser fortemente reforçada.

Num tempo em que as relações Europa-África estão sob forte impulso, a dimensão parlamentar reforça a defesa da legitimidade democrática e da proteção dos povos.

Hoje, unimos a nossa voz e apelamos à mobilização de todos os recursos necessários pelo povo da Etiópia.

Pela paz, pela integridade territorial, pela tolerância, pela transparência, pela liberdade de expressão e pelo direito a uma vida condigna.

 
  
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  Katrin Langensiepen, Verfasserin. – Herr Präsident, sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Drohungen, Ultimaten, aggressive Rhetorik und kriegerische Handlungen gegenüber der Zivilbevölkerung: Das Ringen um neue Machtverhältnisse in Äthiopien stellt viele Hoffnungsmomente der kürzeren Vergangenheit infrage. Dagegen tritt das Schreckensszenarium eines Bürgerkrieges und einer Balkanisierung sowie das Abdriften der Gesamtregion schroff in den Vordergrund.

Wir rufen deswegen die Akteure beider Seiten auf, von einer weiteren Eskalation der Lage abzusehen, einen sofortigen Waffenstillstand zu vereinbaren, und appellieren an alle Nachbarstaaten, den Konflikt weder durch politische noch durch militärische Interventionen anzuheizen.

Insgesamt bleibt es auch richtig, nicht nur einen Blick auf die aktuellen Entwicklungen zu werfen. Es geht auch darum, Angriffe auf ethnische und religiöse Gruppen und die damit verbundenen Menschenrechtsverletzungen – im Vorfeld der gegenwärtigen Eskalation – durch eine unabhängige Untersuchungskommission aufzuarbeiten. Verantwortliche müssen hier zur Rechenschaft gezogen werden.

Premierminister Abiy Ahmed und TPLF-Chef Gebremichael verbindet eine wechselhafte, aber in jedem Fall gemeinsame Vergangenheit. Afrika und Europa müssen nun schauen und tatsächliche Führungsstärke an den Tag legen. Europa und die EU sind bereit und bieten hier bereits Hilfe an, um die Situation insgesamt zu deeskalieren, dies wohl wissend auch um die Unzulänglichkeit des eigenen europäischen Agierens in der Vergangenheit und die teilweise Frage nach Glaubwürdigkeit als Vermittlerin.

Aber ohne weitere Einsicht der jetzigen Akteure müssen Europa und die Mitgliedstaaten klarmachen, dass die besonderen bilateralen Beziehungen zu Äthiopien auf dem Spiel stehen. Es steht noch ganz viel Wichtigeres auf dem Spiel: Menschenrechte und der Schutz des Lebens.

 
  
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  Assita Kanko, author. – Mr President, the situation in Ethiopia is urgent. The country’s grip on peace is slipping with every passing day. Its leader, Abiy Ahmed, has a Nobel Peace Prize but is refusing to pursue peace in his own country. I believe he should give that back. He has been a wolf in sheep’s clothing; a reformer turned authoritarian.

In the Tigray region, hundreds are already dead, with ethnic targeted violence and violations of human rights. Buildings and homes are shelled and roads are blocked to humanitarian assistance. There are no telecoms, no internet or electricity and millions face the threat of famine in a country that once was a stabilising factor, an influence in a fragile region and a pivotal force in the fight against the spread of Islamic terrorism. Tens of thousands of Ethiopians now cross the border to eastern Sudan to seek safety.

Progress and development in Ethiopia was hard won. We must do all we can to help prevent that progress from being lost forever. A looming civil war could destabilise the whole region and trigger another humanitarian crisis that could reach the shores of Europe. We must continue to call for international mediation and a ceasefire, as you have done this week, Mr Borrell, but I would also stress that rarely does a crocodile yield to the roar of a toothless tiger. The EU provides large amounts of development assistance to Ethiopia and we should consider using this, and all available leverages, to help de—escalate the conflict.

Time is running out to salvage the situation and forge a path to free, fair and transparent elections and ultimately to democracy. Nothing short of our most determined and resolute effort is needed.

 
  
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  Jan-Christoph Oetjen, author. – Mr President, we have already hundreds of civilian deaths and mass displacement of people in Eritrea. It has already been said that there are more than 40 000 people that have crossed the border to Sudan, to the southern part of Sudan, destabilising even more the fragile situation in Sudan. These developments are going on with violence and breaches of human rights. At this moment, access for human rights workers and aid is severely restricted. Those organisations cannot even go into those regions to help the people.

We call on the EU and the Member States to step up humanitarian aid, together with the UNHCR, to help those people, those who are most vulnerable. At the same time, we have a communication and electricity blackout, as Ms Kanko has already said, in the Tigray region. This is very worrying and we call on the federal government to restore this situation, to ensure access to communication and electricity for the civil population in this region.

We support the efforts on mediation proposed by the African Union and call on the European Union to step up efforts to use all diplomatic means to obtain a ceasefire in order to protect the civilians in Ethiopia.

 
  
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  Željana Zovko, author. – Mr President, in his acceptance speech as laureate for the Nobel Peace Prize, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that war is the epitome of hell for all involved. As the youngest leader in an African country, the Prime Minister managed to make peace with neighbouring Eritrea after one of Africa’s longest-running conflicts. Unfortunately, we witnessed that domestic tensions between the governmental forces and the TPLF have brought the weapons back in Ethiopia, and that the country is moving towards a true civil war. As the winner of the world’s most renowned peace prize, the Prime Minister should himself reject the notion that he can resolve Ethiopia’s political crisis through force. Also, the TPLF should immediately refrain from further hostilities and together both parties should find the courage to solve their political divergences by peaceful and democratic means.

Two months ago the European Parliament adopted a report on EU security cooperation with our partners on the African continent, including the Horn of Africa. Current developments in Ethiopia, a crucial country in this region, risks to spill over to neighbouring states. The European Union should remain supportive for the efforts of its partner countries and the African Union to prevent a bigger regional conflict and advocate an inclusive dialogue to reach peace, security and stability. At the same time humanitarian workers should have unrestricted access to all areas affected by the conflict, and European humanitarian entities should offer their continued assistance to Ethiopian refugees in the regions.

 
  
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  Seán Kelly, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, fears are mounting that numerous civilians who are unable to escape the fighting could be caught in the crossfire in Tigray. I, like many in this House, am deeply concerned about the risk of violence against civilians, including potential war crimes in the fighting around Mekelle. Reports of unimaginable atrocious crimes committed against civilians for no reason other than their ethnicity is heartbreaking and needs to stop. I join the growing calls for mediation to halt the conflict that threatens to destabilise this part of east Africa. Hundreds, possibly thousands of people have died so far and many more forced to flee their homes. This needs to stop. Peace and dialogue must be the victor in this conflict and the international community must do everything it can to ensure this happens. I’m very pleased that the European Parliament is loud in calling for this action here this morning. The sooner it happens the better.

 
  
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  Hannes Heide, im Namen der S&D-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident! Vor einem Jahr hat Europa mit Hoffnung und Zuversicht auf Äthiopien geschaut – stabil, aufstrebend, eine große wirtschaftliche Entwicklung, eine demokratische Entwicklung, Fortschritte bei den Bürgerrechten, Bemühungen gegen Korruption, für freie Wahlen und eine freie Presse. Das Land hat einen immensen Beitrag zum Friedens- und Versöhnungsprozess in Ostafrika geleistet.

Diese Anstrengungen wurden honoriert, und der äthiopische Ministerpräsident Abiy Ahmed erhielt den Friedensnobelpreis. Bei der Verleihung erklärte er für mich sehr eindrucksvoll: „Wir wünschen uns, dass das Horn von Afrika das Horn des Friedens wird. Wir haben verstanden, dass unsere Nationen keine Feinde sind, stattdessen waren wir Opfer des gemeinsamen Feindes namens Armut“. Er forderte gleiche Rechte und gleiche Chancen für alle Bürger Afrikas, und der besonders jungen Bevölkerung zuzuhören. Sie ruft nach Gleichheit und sozialer Gerechtigkeit.

Das gilt heute wie vor einem Jahr. Aber weniger als ein Jahr später gleicht das Horn von Afrika einem Pulverfass. Corona und eine Heuschreckenplage, dazu der Klimawandel, verschärfen die allgemeine politische Situation. 700 000 Flüchtlinge in Äthiopien, eine Million im Sudan sind die unübersehbaren Folgen der Konflikte in den Ländern dieser Region.

Jetzt kommt noch der Angriff auf die Bevölkerung in Tigray mit einer Eskalation der Gewalt dazu, mit Einschränkungen der Bürgerrechte und der Medienfreiheit im ganzen Land. Wir haben immer wieder erfahren müssen, welche Auswirkungen solche Konflikte haben, wie lange es dauert, damit es überhaupt zur Überwindung der Folgen solcher Auseinandersetzungen kommen kann. Auch unsere europäische Geschichte zeigt das deutlich. Deshalb muss Europa größtes Interesse haben, dass dieser Konflikt umgehend sofort friedlich gelöst wird.

 
  
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  Charles Goerens, au nom du groupe Renew. – Monsieur le Président, les moyens dont nous disposons pour apporter le calme en Éthiopie sont, somme toute, limités.

Les appels à la raison, l’exigence d’un cessez-le-feu immédiat, les tentatives de médiation, ainsi que la demande de mettre en place un monitoring sont certes des réactions souhaitables. Il s’agit là cependant d’une succession de réactions et d’annonces qui sont aussi nécessaires que peu originales. Comme nous avons affaire à un conflit intérieur à un État, les premiers acteurs appelés à agir sont les autorités politiques de ce même État. Ensuite, la première puissance extérieure organisée amenée à intervenir, c’est l’Union africaine, qui est notamment conçue pour apporter des solutions dans ce genre de conflit. L’Union, qui dispose d’une boîte à outils multiples, peut bien entendu jouer un rôle, mais elle ne peut pas forcer le destin.

Je termine en demandant à la Commission, à Monsieur le Commissaire, de faire savoir à sa collègue, Mme Urpilainen, et au service d’action extérieure que la commission du développement serait intéressée par un débat sur les mécanismes de suspension qui pourraient être envisagés dans le cas où la crise devait perdurer.

 
  
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  Ryszard Czarnecki, w imieniu grupy ECR. – Panie Przewodniczący! Etiopia to kraj szczególny dla nas Europejczyków, ponieważ to najstarszy chrześcijański kraj Afryki, a także kolonia przez pewien czas jednego z późniejszych krajów członkowskich Unii Europejskiej. Myślę, że relacje z tym krajem powinny być w związku z tym szczególne, a powiem w ten sposób, że trzeba dialogu z premierem Abiyem, trzeba dialogu z Addis Abebą, ponieważ nasz realny wpływ na tę sytuację jest tylko poprzez presję na tamtejszy rząd.

Oczywiście trzeba przypominać, że zabijanie cywili przez żołnierzy to jest zbrodnia wojenna. Trzeba też mówić w ramach pewnego pragmatyzmu, że walka z autonomistami, z ich stolicą w Mekelle nie może prowadzić do rzezi kobiet, dzieci i osób niezaangażowanych w tę walkę. Pamiętajmy też, że Etiopia już utraciła Erytreę, stąd też w sposób szczególny patrzy na niebezpieczeństwo utraty kolejnego terytorium. Dialog jest potrzebny, presja jest potrzebna.

 
  
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  Fabio Massimo Castaldo (NI). – Signor Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, il brutale conflitto che sta attraversando l'Etiopia da più di tre settimane non sembra essere vicino a una soluzione né diplomatica né militare. Al contrario assistiamo a un inasprimento delle tensioni che potrebbe avere conseguenze drammatiche.

L'inizio della fase finale dell'operazione, annunciata poche ore fa dal Primo ministro Abiy, rischia di tramutarsi in un inutile bagno di sangue, che difficilmente porterà alla cessazione delle ostilità. Il conflitto, infatti, sta assumendo i tratti di uno scontro esistenziale tra le autorità federali e i leader tigrini: mentre le prime puntano a una soluzione definita decisiva e senza pietà, che ponga fine alle resistenze delle autorità locali, i secondi hanno fatto appello alla popolazione affinché combatta fino alla morte contro un governo ritenuto illegittimo.

Considerando le motivazioni e le forze messe in campo da ambo le parti, esiste il rischio concreto dell'apertura di una guerra di logoramento caratterizzata da livelli di brutalità elevatissimi. Non mancano i segnali che vanno in questa direzione, come il massacro di ben 600 civili disarmati nella città di Mai-Kadra del 9 novembre scorso, un episodio che potrebbe ammontare a un crimine di guerra.

Di fronte a noi c'è una potenziale catastrofe umanitaria, c'è in ballo il futuro di un paese già tormentato da tensioni etniche mai risolte, nonché la stabilità di una regione essenziale per la nostra sicurezza. Ecco perché serve un nostro coinvolgimento più marcato, che preveda un immediato e stretto dialogo tra il nostro rappresentante speciale per il Corno d'Africa e i tre omologhi appena inviati ad Addis Abeba dall'Unione africana.

Coordinare gli sforzi internazionali per giungere a una risoluzione negoziale del conflitto, che garantisca l'integrità territoriale dell'Etiopia, appare oggi più importante che mai, così come rafforzare i nostri strumenti di politica estera e di sicurezza comune prima che altri utilizzino questo vuoto.

 
  
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  Evin Incir (S&D). – Madam President, it is with sadness that we see how the praised reformist agenda of Ethiopia is taking a serious hit. Reports of tens of thousands of people fleeing from Tigray, hundreds of people being killed through machete massacres, along with federal planes bombing, are deeply disturbing, and so are the ethnically targeted measures, hate speech and allegations of atrocities. It risks also having a destabilising effect on the broader region. This less than a year since Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed got the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Price doesn’t mean that one can start acting in contrary after receiving it.

Both sides need to immediately end the violence and contribute to a peaceful solution, and international observers must be able to access the Tigray region. It is a war crime to target civilians. The only solution forward is dialogue including all the relevant actors. It is imperative that the country returns to the path towards a democratic and prosperous future, with human rights being upheld, including the rule of law. That is the key.

 
  
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  Nicolae Ştefănuță (Renew). – Mr President, I would like to say to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, if he is watching this or his people are watching this, in a multi-ethnic state, no one should be allowed to have the upper hand. Ethiopia cannot be allowed to descend into a Yugoslav-type conflict. That is not the soul of your country.

Mr Abiy, you have achieved a lot. You have slashed corruption and you have achieved more democratic openness, but you have no excuse for driving 4 000 people a day across the border to Sudan, no excuse for not sitting at the table of the African Union and of the United Nations and not listening to the EU, for not allowing humanitarian aid into Tigray, and for not protecting people enough so that they have to flee Addis Ababa if the wrong ethnicity happens to be on their ID. The longer blood flows, the harder it is for peace to triumph. There is a point in a war where it is easier for people to take revenge than to listen.

Mr Abiy, my colleague, Ms Zovko, reminded you of what you said last year. Let’s step back from this ugly place. The European Union is here to help. Let’s bring back construction. Let’s bring back peace.

 
  
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  Janez Lenarčič, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, since the fighting broke out in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, reports of a high number of casualties, of serious human rights and of serious international humanitarian law violations have been increasing. This is a major concern for the European Union and we were saddened by the tragic loss of lives of Ethiopian people as a result of this conflict. The danger of a major humanitarian crisis is imminent and an immediate de-escalation is needed. All parties should show restraint and reinforce their calls to avoid incitement to hatred and violence. As Commissioner in charge of humanitarian affairs, I have been following closely the situation on the ground. I have been in touch with Mark Lowcock, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, with Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, with Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as with international non-governmental organisations.

In the past few days we have already allocated an initial EUR 4 million to accommodate the most urgent humanitarian needs of Ethiopian refugees who fled the conflict to neighbouring Sudan. Sudan is already hosting a substantial number of refugees and internally displaced persons and it is facing a considerable challenge with any new influx of people in need. I will visit Sudan next week to show solidarity with the Sudanese Government that supports the Ethiopian refugees and to meet refugees themselves. As High Representative Borrell recalled at his meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Mekonnen of Ethiopia on Tuesday, the principles of international humanitarian law must be respected.

In the conduct of hostilities, civilians and non-civilians have to be distinguished. Targeting civilians should be avoided at all costs by all sides. When meeting the Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister myself yesterday, I also recalled the obligation of any party in the conflict, without distinction, to protect civilians, and to ensure their safe and free movement. Furthermore, I called for full and unrestricted access for humanitarian aid and humanitarian workers to all areas affected by fighting so that they are able to provide life-saving assistance.

All partners of Ethiopia and in particular its neighbours should contribute to a cessation of hostilities and to the resolution of political disputes through dialogue in the framework of the Constitution of Ethiopia. In that regard the initiative by the African Union with the appointment of three high-level envoys is welcomed and supported by the European Union. Political solutions and the search for dialogue are the only viable option for the future of Ethiopia. The conflict has further increased inter-ethnic tensions, with reports of ethnically targeted measures, ethnic profiling and discrimination, hate speech and atrocities occurring. Jointly with High Representative Borrell we expressed our deep concerns regarding these allegations. It is imperative that human rights are respected and that where abuses have occurred, they are investigated and those responsible held accountable.

In conclusion, in line with the messages passed to Deputy Prime Minister Mekonnen, we expect the Ethiopian Government to show restraint and to avoid further escalation, not to apply ethnically targeted violence or measures. This is a very sensitive issue for the European Union. We hold the Prime Minister to his word that the government is making a distinction between the Tigrayan people and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front. However, we have reports about blanket measures on the basis of ethnicity. Furthermore we expect the government to allow unimpeded humanitarian access and to take all necessary measures to protect civilians, to ensure free access for media, and finally, and very importantly, to look for a political solution, a dialogue, a cessation of hostilities without delay. We encourage them to work with the African Union high-level envoys in this respect.

 
  
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  President. – The debate is closed.

The vote will take place today.

 
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