THE ETHIO-DJIBOUTI RELATIONS: IMPLICATIONS FOR SUB-REGIONAL INTEGRATION SCHEMES IN THE HORN OF AFRICA

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THE ETHIO-DJIBOUTI RELATIONS: IMPLICATIONS FFR SUB-REGIONAL INTEGRATION SCHEMES IN THE HORN OF AFRCA

 

Abstract
This study aimed to analyze the bilateral relations between Ethiopia and Djibouti, and its implications for sub-regional integration scheme in the Horn of Africa. In order to achieve this objective, the thesis has tried to link the concepts of interstate relations and regional integration, analyzed the historical relations between the two countries and the ups and downs that their relations have faced in the due course of its process, outlined the regional integration schemes in the Horn of Africa, identified the key issues in the Ethio-Djibouti relations and how they could fit to the integration arrangements. Finally, the thesis came up with some ideas that indicate the implications for sub-regional integration efforts in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia and Djibouti have strong relationships. Historically Ethiopia used to claim unification with Djibouti during the Emperor Haile Selassie. However, with coming to power of Derg, Ethiopia renounced its claim over Djibouti and recognized the independent existence of the country in the subregion. Therefore when Djibouti became independent from France rule in 1977, Ethiopia was among the first countries to welcome the birth of the new state. The formal diplomatic relation between the two countries was established in 1984. Even though their relationships has been good throughout the periods, the Ethio-Djibouti relationships have been transformed to higher level of cooperation and interdependence after the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia of 1998-2000. Ethiopia’s heavy dependence on Djibouti’s port for its international business transactions, following the war, has motivated the two countries linkages in other areas. Currently, they are tied to each others in various ways including; port use, transport, communications, trade and investment, security issues, electric power and potable water. Depending on qualitative examination of texts and semi-structured interviews, the study has assessed the implication of the contemporary relationships between Ethiopia and Djibouti on the realization of subregional integration in the Horn of Africa. From the angle of regional integration schemes in the subregion, the Ethio-Djibouti relationships reveals the weakness of the regional institutions such as IGAD and COMESA in coordinating activities of member states to foster regional integration. Even though harmonious with regional integration arrangements in the subregion, the contemporary Ethio-Djibouti relations are mainly independent initiatives of the two countries based on their own pragmatic calculations outside the institutional frameworks of regional organizations. The conclusion of the thesis indicates that the two countries relationships have a positive implication for the subregional integration schemes in the Horn of Africa as essential benchmark up on which a region wide integration could be built. Indeed, the study has identified the opportunities and challenges for the potential of the Ethio-Djibouti relationships to grow to higher level of economic and political integration as well as the positive lessons to be drawn from the two countries’ relations for the countries in the subregion in the process of promoting subregional integration.

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