UNITED NATIONS (Xinhua)―Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed deserves the most prominent speaker’s place at this year’s General Assembly VIP debate in September, said Swedish ambassador to the United Nations Olof Skoog, whose country is winding up its presidency of the Security Council.

“When there is this very bold, historic leader coming in — in this case in Ethiopia — just changing the paradigm in favor of peace, shouldn’t we just devote this General Assembly to give him the most prominent speaker’s place?” asked Skoog on Tuesday.

He was referring to the new Ethiopian prime minister’s stunningly successful peace efforts with neighboring Eritrea.

The Ethiopian government under the leadership of Abiy unexpectedly announced on June 5 that it fully accepts the terms of a 2000 peace agreement with Eritrea. Ethiopia also announced that it would accept the outcome of a UN-backed boundary commission ruling that awarded disputed territories to Eritrea.

Abiy then traveled to Eritrea and signed a Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on July 9, formally ending the state of war and normalizing relations between the two countries.

The example that Abiy is setting is extraordinary given the fact that so many other countries are investing so much time in just defining why they need to be opposed to their neighbor, Skoog told reporters.

“If we can turn that energy instead into seeing what if we would invest all that money, all that diplomacy, all that military buildup in looking at what a peaceful existence could look like, that would be a boost to the General Assembly and would really serve coming back to the ideas of the (UN) Charter.”

He noted that the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict has been an issue for which the international community has given up efforts for 20 years. Abiy’s success can be an inspiration for other leaders, he said.

Skoog said Monday that the UN Security Council should consider lifting sanctions against Eritrea given the breakthrough.

“We believe that the council should seize this moment to firmly recognize peace and normalize the relations between the international community and Eritrea by deciding to review the sanctions regime as soon as possible,” he told reporters.

What is happening in the Horn of Africa is truly historic, he said. “It is very important that we support those historically positive developments in any way we can.”

The Security Council imposed sanctions in 2009 on Eritrea, including an arms embargo, for its destabilizing role in neighboring countries, particularly its alleged support for al-Shabaab militants in Somalia and its territorial dispute with Djibouti.

Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 and the two countries fought a war between 1998 and 2000. Although a peace agreement was singed in December 2000, tensions had continued. The July 9 Joint Declaration officially put an end to war between the two long-time rivals.

Source: Xinhua
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