Brussels, 27 October 2020/OACPS: The Committee of Ambassadors (CoA) of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) extended a virtual welcome to the new ambassadors from the Republics of Ethiopia and Niger, H.E. Mrs. Hirut Zemene and H.E. Mr. Ide Alhassane, respectively, at their hybrid 932nd Meeting on 20 October 2020.

In accordance with the current COVID-19 regulations, the OACPS Secretariat has limited the number of participants present during in-person events, the majority of the participants, including the new ambassadors, therefore logged in virtually to the meeting.

H.E. Mrs. Hirut Zemene, Ambassador of Ethiopia

H.E. Mrs. Hirut Zemene, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union (EU) Institutions is a career diplomat, who, for almost thirty years has worked to establish Ethiopia’s position in bilateral and multilateral fora to achieve peace and stability and enhance development cooperation. With 17 years of experience in her country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs where she has held executive leadership posts, she has served successively as Director in Charge of Business Intelligence, Director for the Americas, Europe and Asia and Director-General in charge of Business Diplomacy as well as State Minister for Political Affairs.

Ambassador Zemene has also served at Ethiopian diplomatic missions, including in the People’s Republic of China and the United Kingdom.

In her introductory remarks to the CoA, the new Ambassador extended her appreciation and thanks to the august body for the substantial progress made thus far on the post-Cotonou negotiations and commended them on their “determination to remain united and negotiate as one single entity with our partners in the European Union.” Noting that the Ethiopian delegation had, at one point assumed the coordination of the Technical Negotiating Team III (TNT III) of the Africa Regional Protocol, she urged the OACPS to “spare no effort to advance the Post-Cotonou negotiations and conclude a legally binding, fair and balanced single agreement with the European Union at the earliest opportune time.”

Referring to her country’s unwavering support to the OACPS since signing the Georgetown Agreement in 1975, Ambassador Zemene exhorted continued adherence to the ideals of multilateralism. “Ethiopia believes the OACPS, which comprises more than third of the UN member states, is well positioned to advocate and restore in collaboration with other like-minded groups, the spirit of multilateralism for greater achievements in sustainable social and economic development of our countries, ensuring peace and security and combating climate change. The OACPS is also an ideal platform to strengthen South-South and triangular cooperation by forging new ties with emerging economies that are key players in today’s world.”

H.E. Mr. Ide Alhassane, Ambassador of Niger

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Niger to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Benelux, and Permanent Representative to the European Union, H.E. Mr. Ide Alhassane is no stranger to the OACPS, having served previously in Brussels for six years as Counsellor at the Embassy of Niger. A career diplomat, Ambasador Alhassane began his career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Niger, where he served in various capacities both nationally and abroad. He also served in turn, as Counsellor at the General Secretariat of the National Commission for la Francophonie, First Secretary of the Embassy of Niger in Brussels, and Head of the Prospective Studies and Analysis Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ambassador Alhassane has also held the posts of Director of Inter-African Organisations at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Director of Protocol in the Office of the President of the Republic as well as Chief of Protocol for His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Niger.

Saluting the efforts of the Secretary-General to maintain and improve the activities of the Secretariat in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambassador Alhassane also recognised the extensive contributions by the various members of the negotiating teams and pledged the assistance of his mission to continue the work, “I also take this opportunity to pay a deserved tribute to our talented negotiators for their unwavering commitment, which, I am sure, will be crowned with success in the very near conclusion of the new OEACP / European Union cooperation agreement.”

During his address, Ambassador Alhassane shared troubling realities affecting his country and some of the major issues demanding attention: “Niger faces major challenges such as security, the fight against terrorism and cross-border crime, challenges related to climate and environmental change, all things that have disrupted its basic economy, agro-pastoralism and accentuated the vulnerability of its populations.” With respect to the challenges facing the Sahel, he invoked the dire situation caused by the humanitarian and security crisis, which has intensified in the wake of COVID-19.

On a more hopeful note, however, he evoked signs of encouragement, such as the designation of the President of the Republic, H. E. Mr Issoufou Mahamadou as Champion of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) as well as President of the Climate Commission for the Sahel Region. Nonetheless, Ambassador Alhassane stressed that, “The new Niger… will spare no effort to become more involved with a view to a return to multilateralism and to fairer and more united world governance.”

The members of the CoA of Ambassadors were happy to welcome Ambassadors Alhassane and Zamene to their midst and pledged the support of their missions during their tenure in Brussels.