Landlocked Ethiopia Forges Maritime Alliances: Signs Pact with Somaliland for Berbera Port Access

Strategic Agreement Marks Ethiopia’s Maritime Expansion and Positions Somaliland for International Recognition


Landlocked Ethiopia has taken a significant stride in its maritime strategy by signing an initial agreement with the breakaway region of Somaliland to utilize the Red Sea port of Berbera. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office announced this development on Monday, highlighting the nation’s current reliance on Djibouti for the majority of its maritime trade.

At the signing ceremony in Addis Ababa, Prime Minister Abiy underscored the accord with Somaliland, stating, “This has been now agreed with our Somaliland brothers, and an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) has been signed today.” The agreement not only opens avenues for maritime trade but also marks Ethiopia as the first country to recognize Somaliland as an independent nation in the future, according to President Muse Bihi Abdi of Somaliland.

The MoU outlines provisions for Ethiopia to engage in commercial marine operations in the region, granting access to a leased military base on the Red Sea, as explained by Abiy’s National Security Adviser, Redwan Hussien. Additionally, Somaliland is slated to receive a stake in Ethiopia’s state-owned airline, Ethiopian Airlines, although specific details were not disclosed.

Despite declaring autonomy from Somalia in 1991, Somaliland has struggled to secure widespread international recognition. The territorial dispute with Somalia persists, with Somalia maintaining that Somaliland is an integral part of its territory. Recent mediation efforts led by Djibouti have facilitated talks between Somalia and Somaliland, aiming to address their longstanding disputes. This strategic agreement between Ethiopia and Somaliland signals a transformative shift in regional maritime dynamics and holds implications for geopolitical alliances in the Horn of Africa.


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