'MISUNDERSTANDING'

Ethiopia not turning its back on Kenya, says envoy Tikea

"The only area where we compete is atheletics. The misunderstanding that we are turning our back on Kenya should be corrected,”

In Summary

• Ethiopia has refuted claims that it is turning its back on Kenya.

• Meles said Ethiopia is a country with a big economy with a population of over 100 million people and thus it has its democratic rights to seek partnerships with its neigbors.

Ethiopian ambassador to Kenya Meles Tikea shakes hands with President Uhuru Kenyatta when he presented his credentials
WELCOME Ethiopian ambassador to Kenya Meles Tikea shakes hands with President Uhuru Kenyatta when he presented his credentials
Image: COURTESY

Ethiopia has denied claims it is turning its back on Kenya.

Ambassador to Kenya Meles Tikea said Ethiopia's decision to seek partnerships with other neighbours to have more access to the sea does not imply Kenya was being thrown under the bus.

Meles said Ethiopia is not seeking to compete with Kenya on any front and will remain a strategic partner.

"The only area where we compete is atheletics. The misunderstanding that we are turning our back on Kenya should be corrected,” Tikea said.

He spoke on Sunday during an address to reporters at the country's embassy along State House Cresent Road in Nairobi.

“We are not competitors but partners. When we area seeking consent with our neighbours to have more access to the sea, it is meant well for all our neighbours and there should be no cause for alarm."

Meles said Ethiopia is a big country with a population of over 100 million people and thus the need to seek partnerships with neigbours.

“Kenya remains our best option and strategic partner especially to the Southern part of Ethiopia. Djibouti however remains our biggest main port as we already have railway lines and road networks that play a key role to that route and Sudan,” Meles said.

He said a delegation with a bias in leather products will soon visit Kenya to explore areas that can create opportunities for investments.

The envoy said the two countries have embarked on talks to make Moyale a free economic zone. The move will boost inter-border relations, Tikea said.

“Our foreign policy prioritises all our neighbours. Ethiopia and Kenya have common people with the same destiny and future. You can choose whom you want to be your friend but not neighbours,” he said.

He said Ethiopia was working in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four to ensure more focus is put on food security and infrastructure.

“Lapsset remains the flagship project for the two countries. We have some three terminals which are between 62 per cent and 99 per cent complete. One of the terminals will be inaugurated in June this year."

He said the projects will actualise the two countries' strong bilateral relations.

“One of my top agenda, as I embark on my mission in Kenya, is to strengthen Ethiopia-Kenya people to people relations with support of our people-centred foreign policy."