Excelling Ethio Rwanda relations to maximize cooperation, benefits

Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, has gained global recognition for its outstanding cleanliness and urban development, leaving visitors in awe. This achievement becomes even more remarkable when considering the country’s painful history, particularly the devastating genocide of 1994.

Ethiopia, having faced its own challenges and provided support during the genocide, can learn valuable lessons from Rwanda’s journey of reconciliation and progress. The two African nations have been undergoing and achieving tangible economic development and national reconciliation for a better future. The two counterparts have a lot in common and have many to share.

Kigali, often hailed as Africa’s cleanest city, boasts meticulous urban planning and a deep commitment to environmental sustainability. Its streets are immaculate, adorned with beautiful gardens and green spaces, while efficient wastage management systems ensure cleanliness throughout the city. By prioritizing cleanliness and embracing sustainable practices, Kigali has become an attractive destination for tourists and investors. Similarly, Ethiopia’s ongoing Smart City project in Addis Ababa aims to uplift the city in order to live up to its name as the ‘Capital of Africa’.

Acknowledging Rwanda’s tumultuous past is crucial to fully appreciate the significance of its transformation. In 1994, the country was torn apart by a brutal genocide that claimed the lives of approximately 800,000 people within a mere 100 days. In the aftermath of this tragedy, Rwanda faced the monumental task of rebuilding and healing its fractured society.

During this harrowing time, Ethiopia extended its support and stood by Rwanda, joining forces with other nations to provide humanitarian aid and assistance under the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission.

Ethiopia and Rwanda have maintained solid and longstanding bilateral cooperation since establishing their diplomatic relations in the late 1970s. Ethiopia’s contribution to peacekeeping efforts and its commitment to supporting Rwanda during its darkest hours demonstrated the importance of regional solidarity and international cooperation in times of crisis.

During the 25th Genocide Commemoration, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed his personal connection to the tragic events, having visited Rwanda as part of an Ethiopian peacekeeping delegation in 1995. His words reaffirmed Ethiopia’s unwavering support during Rwanda’s difficult times. Furthermore, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and First Lady Zinash Tayachew have recently arrived in Kigali, Rwanda on an official visit and participated in the Kwibuka30, the 30th commemoration of genocide against the Tutsi, expressing Ethiopia’s solidarity with the Rwandan people.

By the same token, Paul Kagame, President of Rwandan, remembered and appreciated the commitment from Ethiopia and its Prime Minister during the devastating history of his country by extending his appreciation to Prime Minister Abiy for serving as a young peacekeeper in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide. In fact, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy served as a United Nations (UN) peacekeeper in Rwanda following the Rwandan genocide back in 1995.

Speaking at the commemoration organized to mark the 39th year anniversary of genocide, President Kagame has also recognized the leadership of different countries for supporting Rwanda’s rebuilding at the time.

“I want to recognize a few while also asking for forgiveness not being able to mention or who deserves it. For example, Uganda, which carried the burden of Rwanda. The leadership and people of Ethiopia and Eritrea helped us in starting to rebuild at that time,” he said. “Prime Minister Abiy, who is here even served as the young peacekeeper in the immediate aftermath of the genocide,” the President said.

The two countries share a longstanding relationship across various sectors, and Prime Minister Abiy’s recent official visit to Rwanda further solidified their ties. The foundation stone was laid for the Ethiopian Embassy office in Kigali, on a 7,771 square meters land provided by the Rwandan government. Amb. Taye Atskeselassie, Minister of Foreign Affairs, emphasized that this land allocation would enhance the fruitful relationship between the two nations. In return, Ethiopia has also allocated an equal amount of land for the construction of the Rwandan embassy in Addis Ababa.

Since 2012, Ethiopia and Rwanda have signed 23 agreements and memorandums of understanding that highly reflect their commitment to bilateral cooperation. The construction of the embassy office plays a pivotal role in implementing these agreements, as highlighted by Ambassador Taye. In addition to that, during the recently concluded third meeting of the Ethio-Rwanda Joint Ministerial Commission in Addis Ababa, the countries agreed to collaborate on trade, risk reduction and management, sports, politics, and investment, further strengthening their cooperation.

Rwanda’s journey towards healing and reconciliation remains ongoing, as highlighted by a recent UNDP report. The scars of the genocide may never fully heal, but the country’s unwavering commitment to building a more inclusive and harmonious society is evident. Rwanda has demonstrated to the world that forgiveness, compassion, and unity are possible, even in the face of unimaginable pain and trauma.

Speaking of the incredible Rwanda’s Reconciliation achievement, “The latest Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer published by the government shows that the status of reconciliation in Rwanda moved from 82.3 % in 2010 to 92.5 % in 2015 and to 94.7 % in 2020. Another factor the reconciliation barometers presented as hindering reconciliation was the fact that some Rwandans still viewed themselves and others through ethnic lenses. Rwandans, according to the official report, feel attached to their national identity, which would make reconciliation highly possible, as it would mean that they have overcome tendencies to associate themselves and others with ethnic-specific identities,” according to a report.

Based on the aforementioned statistics, Ethiopia can draw valuable lessons from Rwanda’s remarkable journey. Following the genocide, Rwanda embarked on a path of healing and unity, prioritizing justice, forgiveness, and national dialogue. The establishment of the Gacaca Courts, a community-based justice system allowing perpetrators to confess their crimes, seeks forgiveness, and reintegrate into society, played a crucial role in fostering reconciliation and rebuilding trust among Rwandans. In light of Ethiopia’s own internal challenges, fostering national reconciliation through open dialogue, truth-seeking, and a culture of forgiveness becomes paramount.

Ethiopia can also find inspiration in Rwanda’s success in various areas. Investing in education, healthcare, and infrastructure will contribute to the overall well-being and development of the nation. Rwanda’s commitment to cleanliness, reconciliation, and sustainable development offers a blueprint for progress that Ethiopia can emulate.

As Ethiopia reflects on its history and confronts its challenges, Rwanda’s remarkable transformation serves as a source of inspiration. Ethiopia, with its rich history and resilient spirit, has the potential to achieve remarkable success by drawing on the lessons of Rwanda’s journey. Just as Kigali shines as a beacon of cleanliness and reconciliation, Ethiopia can embark on its transformative path, driven by unity, forgiveness, and sustainable development. The country’s ongoing efforts, such as the rapid development witnessed through collaboration with neighboring countries, exemplify its ambition to become a developed nation in Africa.




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