Ethiopia has reportedly rejected a new offer of port use by Somalia. The offer was made at ongoing talks between the countries in Ankara Turkey.

The delegations from Ethiopia and Turkey led by foreign ministers are meeting in Turkey to resolve the dispute over port access. Ethiopia, in January this year, signed a controversial Memorandum of Understanding with Somaliland. The MoU, if implemented, would enable landlocked Ethiopia to establish a naval base in Somaliland and gain access to sea on lease. In return, Ethiopia would recognize Somaliland as an independent country. Somaliland is internationally recognized part of Somalia but it has been operating as an independent entity, struggling to get international recognition.

Somalia termed the MoU a violation of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. It cut off diplomatic ties with Ethiopia and refused to enter into any talks with Ethiopia until Ethiopia withdraws from MoU.

But on weekend, Somalia agreed to talk to Ethiopia. The two countries, mediated by Turkey, are holding talks in Ankara. The Somali delegation led by Foreign Minister Ahmed Fiqi, reportedly, offered Hobyo port to Ethiopia.

Hobyo port is situated in Galmudug regional state of Somalia. Situated on the Indian Ocean, it is located around 200 km away from Ethiopian border. In 2019, Qatar showed interest in constructing this port and Obbia airport in the area. But progress could not be made. In 2020, Oriental Terminal, a consortium of Turkish, Somali and British companies, showed interest in building this port but again no progress happened. Earlier this year, engineers from Djibouti also visited the port. Obbia airport in this area is basically an airstrip with one runway only.

The Ethiopian delegation reportedly rejected this offer from Somalia. Ethiopia is more interested in using Berbera port which is fully operational port, developed by UAE’s DP world. Berbera has an airport too and road infrastructure from Berbera to Ethiopian border is in good condition.

The two delegations are still in Ankara. Final outcome of the talks has not been announced so far.

Source New Addis