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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Alberto Nardelli

European Union sees risk of Ethiopia’s disintegration unless cease-fire is reached

LONDON — The European Union warned that Ethiopia risks disintegrating unless talks to end a yearlong conflict bring about a cease-fire.

The alarm sounded by the EU echoes concerns expressed by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last Friday before his visit to the region this week to discuss the crisis. Both the U.S. and the EU are considering sanctions against Ethiopia over its failure to end violence that has killed thousands of people and displaced hundreds of thousands more.

European foreign ministers discussed the situation in Ethiopia at a meeting Monday, following a two-day visit to the Horn of Africa nation by Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen on Oct. 24. Since then, the situation has deteriorated and the EU has decided to evacuate nonessential personnel as well as prepare for possible further evacuations, according to a diplomatic memorandum seen by Bloomberg.

A senior EU official told the foreign ministers the country risked becoming the Yugoslavia of Africa, according to the note.

Talks led by African Union Envoy Olusegun Obasanjo aimed at bringing about a cessation of hostilities appear to be gaining traction, according to the memorandum, which didn’t provide further details. Urpilainen, who said the duration of her 1 1/2-hour meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed suggested he is willing to engage, called for European Union support of the African initiative to end the crisis.

Ethiopia’s Finance Ministry said Tuesday the crisis risks curbing foreign investment in what was once Africa’s fastest-growing economy. The government plans to prioritize projects to ensure that available state funds are used “without wasting money,” while also focusing on boosting domestic tax collection, the ministry said in a post on its Facebook page.

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