Translated to English from original at RSI News
“Expulsions of legitimate officials, now cooperation resumes”: RSI interview with the Ambassador of Addis Ababa to the United Nations in Geneva.
Ethiopia defends the decision to declare “persona non grata” and expel seven UN officials accused of meddling. A move that aroused harsh criticism from the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who before the Security Council had declared the decision of the Addis Ababa authorities “illegitimate”. Now for the first time Ethiopia replies: “Now we are ready to cooperate fully”, the permanent representative of Ethiopia to the UN agencies in Geneva, Ambassador Zenebe Kebede Korcho told MODEM – the radio program of CSR. . But he excludes that the same officials can return to Ethiopia: “We are willing to welcome the new officials that Guterres will want to send to our country”.
Why did you expel seven UN officials from Ethiopia a few days ago?
Humanitarian organizations are in Ethiopia in agreement and with the consent of the Government, which cooperates with all these agencies. Not just now, but over a long period of time. Ethiopia believes in multilateralism and cooperation.
Ambassador, however, these expulsions took place at a time of serious humanitarian crisis due to the war in Tigray.
The same humanitarian organizations active in Ethiopia must act in an impartial, independent and neutral manner. They must respect the cardinal principles of international law and local laws.
In this case, what do you accuse UN officials of?
Whenever these operators have exceeded their mandate, the Government must respond. In this case, my government has officially notified it in a letter to the UN Secretary General last July. We are not against the UN or against any organization. We have expelled seven officials present in Ethiopia.
I interrupt: among them the head of UNICEF and UN humanitarian aid. Was this measure really necessary? Why expel them at a time like this?
Because these people have been told: stop meddling in the internal affairs of Ethiopia. But they continued their illegal activities. And ultimately in the absence of a response from the UN, Ethiopia exercised its right by expelling them. These people may have diplomatic immunity from being arrested or jailed. But the Government of Ethiopia has the right to expel any unwanted and unwanted foreigner who interferes in its internal affairs.
But UN Secretary General Guterres says instead that this is against international law. Ambassador, you represent Ethiopia to UN agencies here in Switzerland in Geneva. What do you reply?
In principle and legally, Ethiopia does not need to justify the reason for the expulsion of these officials. Ethiopia, however, has publicly explained the reasons: because they supported the Tigray Front and interfered in the country’s internal affairs.
At the Security Council, Guterres asked Ethiopia to guarantee humanitarian assistance. Will you continue to work with the UN, whose help is essential for Ethiopia?
This is not a legal dispute. It is a question of international relations. Ethiopia is exercising its rights under international law. We have notified the UN, informing its most important offices in New York. We are now ready to work with the United Nations and the Secretary General. We don’t want controversy. We are not against the UN. We are ready to welcome any new officials that the UN sends in place of those expelled. And we are ready to cooperate with any international organization as long as it respects international standards, mutual respect, territorial integrity of Ethiopia and limited to the mandate of these agencies.