Speech Given by the President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, HIH Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie
At the First Annual Meeting of the Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela and the Commemoration of the 112th Birth Date of HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.  Charleston, South Carolina, July 24, 2004 

Your Imperial Highness Prince Bekere, Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Welcome to the first Annual Meeting of the Imperial Society of St George of Lalibela.  Your presence here today, to officially launch the Society and to commemorate the 112th Anniversary of the Birth of my late grandfather, HIM Haile Selassie I, is a testimony of your high esteem for Ethiopia’s heritage and for its former Monarch. For this, I thank you most sincerely.

The Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela and the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopian Children are the two vehicles of the Ethiopian Crown Council to direct charitable donations and aid to Ethiopia from the United States.  Whereas the Foundation has been relatively active, The Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela is holding it first meeting today.  

The Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela is named after the patron saint of Ethiopia and it is dedicated to the preservation of the history and dignity of Solomonic institutions and the Crown of Ethiopia.   Membership is open to individuals of all nationality, gender and religion.  The members are expected to support the Charities of the Society through annual oblations and donations.  The feast days of the Society include: St George’s Day, April 23, Ethiopian Orthodox Easter, and the Birthday of HIM Emperor Haile Selassie I, on July 23.  The society’s current base of operation is in the Washington DC area where the Ethiopian Crown Council is based in exile.  It is planed, however, to open chapters in Addis Ababa and other cities around the world.      

Your Imperial Highness, Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

HIM Haile Selassie I, whom we are gathered hear to commemorate, was a great pioneer who had moved Ethiopia from the feudal age to the 20th Century, by granting a modern Constitution by which his people are to be governed; by promoting education, and modern health care so that they may benefit from advancements in the world; by establishing a central judicial system that is removed from political interference; by instituting a modern Banking system and  centralized Taxation to bring them up to world standard; and by establishing the Ethiopian Telecommunication Authority and Ethiopian Airlines to give his people exposure to the modern world.

Above all, we are proud to honor him for abolishing slavery in Ethiopia; for the role that he played in defending and securing Ethiopia’s independence; for his magnanimity in giving immediate amnesty to the remnant of the Fascist Army; for his distinguished advocacy in standing up for collective security at the League of Nations; for his steadfastness in giving support and encouragement to Leaders of African Liberation Movements, such as Jomo Kenyata, Julius Neyrere, and Nelson Mandela; for his leadership in establishing The Organization of African Unity which even today remains as the African Union with its Headquarters still in Addis Ababa;  and also for his remarkable contribution as a mediator in conflict resolution in Africa.  

Despite the Emperor’s humiliation by the Marxist Leninist Communist Government in 1974, and the unjustified echo of their slander by the international press, history has proved that Emperor Haile Selassie was, indeed, a great man who had left his undeniable mark on his country, as well as on Africa, the Caribbean, and on the rest of the world.  Thus, we are gathered here today to celebrate his achievements and to find ways and means by which to carry forward his legacy.

The last Emperor of Ethiopia, my late uncle HIM Ameha Selassie I, was recovering from a stroke when the Imperial mantel passed on to him.  Even so, he spearheaded the effort to coordinate Ethiopians inside and outside the country, to restore a Constitutional Monarchy and to bring peace and stability to his country.  His Majesty reestablished the Crown Council of Ethiopia, in exile, to advise him in his work.  One of the outcomes of this was the appointment of young members of the Imperial Family to key posts in 1993.  While his grandson my cousin Prince Bekere Fikre Selassie, who is here with us today, was appointed as His Majesty’s Enderase (Viceroy), I was assigned the post of the President of the Crown Council.  Other members of the family were also appointed.    

Since my appointment in 1993, the Crown Council has kept on the International Agenda, the current problems of the Ethiopian people, the history and culture of our ancient country, as well as that of our heritage of one of the oldest Monarchies in the world.  This was done by establishing a Web Site to keep in touch with the public at large; by presenting papers at various forums; by participating in numerous Conferences; by testifying at the US Congress and Senate regarding the deteriorating situation in Ethiopia; by briefing numerous world leaders during their visit to the USA; by broadcasting on the BBC, Washington National Public Radio and on a number of radios stations in the Caribbean; and by responding to TV, News Paper and Magazine Interviews in the USA, Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.  Thus, we have contributed to rehabilitate the name of my distinguished grandfather Emperor Haile Selassie I, and we have also kept the Imperial Family engaged in Ethiopian affairs, even in the Diaspora.

As a result, we had secured 24 scholarships for Ethiopian students from the Pacem In Terris Institute of La Roche College, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  Fourteen of the students have now obtained their BA Degree and a number have secured scholarships for graduate studies.  The other sizable assistance obtained through the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopian Children is from a Royal Family in Europe, which has, as a first step, donated funds for expansion of a Hospital in Sodo, Wolayta, in southern Ethiopia.  The project is now completed.

In addition, a number of organizations have expressed interest to give support to selected programmes in Ethiopia through our Foundation.  For example, some of my old school friends and military officials in the UK have expressed interest to support the Old Ethiopian Patriots Association.  The Prester John Luso-Ethiopian Friendship Association of Portugal, which was formed in August 2003, the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary and one Royal Family in Europe have all expressed interest to support development programmes in Ethiopia through us.    

At the same time, numerous organizations in Ethiopia have asked me to find support for their respective programmes.  Some of the requests that relate to the objectives of the Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela are: First, support for the repair of Trinity Cathedral in Addis Ababa which is the burial place for the Imperial family, for constructing and equipping a Museum attached to the Cathedral to house church relics, and for equipping the Clinic for the poor that is operated by the Cathedral. Second, repair of two churches of historical importance, in Showa and Wello Provinces that were originally built by my respective great grandfathers King Sahle Selassie of Shewa and King Michael of Wello. Third, for construction and equipment of a Museum on the former Imperial Jubilee Place grounds to preserve the Imperial Heritage, and also to support a few Regional Museums.  Fourth, the Society of Friends of the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Chaired by the world renown Professor Richard Pankhurst, has requested me to raise funds to expand the facilities of the Center of Ethiopian Studies at the University of Addis Ababa, so that it may collect and preserve new material that are scattered through out the world.     

The other requests are more in line with the objectives of the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopian Children.  During my discussions in Addis Ababa in April 2003, I was made aware of the Governments initiative to revive youth and women related NGOs, such as the Boys Scout, the YMCA and the YWCA - associations that had been formerly replicated in Ethiopia by members of my family, to promote Character Building and to provide Vocational Training for Ethiopian youth.  Thus, these organizations would need support.  Assistance has also been requested to ensure the continuation of the work of Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa, which provides medical treatment for women who have been injured as the result of medically unattended child delivery.        

Regrettably, both the Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela and the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopian Children do not have the human and financial resources to follow up on the assistance already at hand, let alone coordinate the submission of additional requests to Donors.  Therefore, due to lack of a well established office and administrative machinery, we are regrettably losing a great deal of opportunity to assist our country.  

The achievements to date have been attained with the help of volunteers.  However, as security considerations had limited what could be shared with each volunteer, it has not been possible to maximize the benefit of their experience.  If the Foundation is to realize its full potential, it is clear that it needs to have a well established office and full time staff that are accountable.

The fact that we have been operating from the USA without having an established office in Ethiopia, had no doubt, limited our credibility before Donors.  I am now glad to report to you that the Foundation was registered in Addis Ababa on May 12th, 2004

Your Imperial Highness, Honorable Guests and Ladies and Gentlemen,

The registration of the Foundation in Addis Ababa is the first step of my plan to return home to participate in the development of my country.  This is an outcome of the major political decision that was made by the Crown Council, after extensive consultation during the period 2003 and 2004, to shift the role of the Crown from the realm of politics to that which will contribute through support for development and humanitarian progmramme.  I have further been encouraged by the fact that the Government of Ethiopia has now realized that the input of all Ethiopians, including that of the Imperial Family, is needed if the development of Ethiopia is to forge ahead.  

Furthermore, the warm reception that I had received from the Ethiopian public when I visited Addis Ababa in April to June 2003, and the cordial diplomatic reception extended to me by all foreign Ambassadors that I had met there, convinced me that the Ethiopian Imperial Family still has an important none political role to play in Ethiopian affairs.  As many qualified Ethiopian professionals with extensive experience in the international arena, have also begun to return home, it is my strong belief that we can all pull together our human resources to make a remarkable difference in the reconstruction and development of our country.  In addition, through my work with the refugee community in the USA I will encourage young well qualified Ethiopians to also return home to help improve the situation in our country.

Your Imperial Highness, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As stated earlier, the role foreseen for the Society of St George of Lalibela is that of a group who will help to preserve Ethiopia’s ancient heritage.  In this day and age of religious intolerance, it is intended that the Society will also provide a platform to advocate the preservation of Ethiopia’s long established tradition of coexistence of people of various religious and ethnic backgrounds, while at the same time be at the forefront to safeguard and preserve one of the oldest Christian cultures in the world.  The Foundation’s role will be that of a Funding Agency for Development and Humanitarian Projects.  It will utilize the expertise of existing organizations to implement the projects that it supports.  The Foundation will also need to have its own expertise to enable it to monitor and evaluate the projects.

As you all know, the problems faced by Ethiopia are overwhelming.  Population explosion, desertification, periodic famine, HIV/AIDS and high level of unemployment are taking their toll.  However, aware of our limited capacity, we will have to be very selective in the Projects we support.  This also requires the employment of well qualified and experienced social development professionals to help both the Society and the Foundation.  

Finally, I would like you to note that redirecting the Crown Council’s area of focus from political to development and humanitarian programmes has proved to be a more realistic decision, as it has already resulted in opening new opportunities for cooperation with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and with the Ethiopian refugee community in the USA.  It is clear that in galvanizing our community’s support for development and humanitarian programmes, we will gain more ground in improving the situation in our country.  However, much, much more than what the Ethiopian community in the Diaspora can provide is needed to make even a dent on Ethiopia’s problems.  

Therefore, the projects for which we are seeking assistance through the Imperial Society of St. George of Lalibela are for the preservation of Ethiopia’s ancient history, culture and religion which we trust are also of great interest to the rest of the world.  The specific projects to be supported have been mentioned before.  In addition, as we plan to seek the support of all leaders of the Christian Faith to jointly launch a worldwide appeal to request for the return of Ethiopia’s religious and cultural artifacts that had been taken out of the country during the Communist regime, we would also appreciate most sincerely the support of each members of the Society in this major endeavor.   

Through the Haile Selassie Fund for Ethiopian Children we are seeking for support for social sector development projects, such as Health Care, Water Supply, Education, and Vocational Training.  Your support to obtain more scholarship for Ethiopian students or better still to strengthen the Universities in Ethiopia to reach thousands more students will be most beneficial.

Since the work of both the Society and the Foundation can not be achieved without a well staffed and a well equipped office, your assistance to help us establish an office in Addis Ababa will be invaluable.  Furthermore, as Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries but receives the least aid for development programmes, I kindly request you all to use what ever leverage you have to influence the US Government to provide more funds for development projects in Ethiopia, in addition to what it is most generously being provided for emergency humanitarian projects.           

In closing, I would like to extend my heart-felt thanks and most sincere gratitude to all friends of Ethiopia who have stood by us in our time of need.  Thank you all very much, indeed, for your concern for Ethiopia that has brought you here today.  My sincere appreciation and deep gratitude also go to all those who have facilitated and organized this meeting to give the Crown Council of Ethiopia the platform to put the case of our country before you.  

Your Imperial Highness, Honorable Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I call upon all of you to join hands with us to help preserve one of the most fascinating cultures in the world.  May God help us all to accomplish this noble task.  

Thank you very much for your attention.   

HIH Prince Ermias Sahle Selassie

July 24th, 2004  


Stability in the Horn of Africa: Strategic Security for the World

An Address by HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie to Florida International University, April 8, 2004

It is possible to measure, in large part, the rise of global wealth — and fluctuations in it — by the viability and efficiency of the trade in goods. This has been the history of civilization, beginning with the trade in food commodities, metals, animals and luxury goods around the littorals of the Red Sea and Mediterranean, dating from ancient times. It is now clear that many of the implements vital to early Egyptian society came from the Horn of Africa and possibly even from Australia. Discoveries have revealed that commodities from the British Isles found their way to the Eastern Mediterranean long before the Roman invasion, and a mainstay of Mediterranean and European wealth was, for several thousand years, the arduous, complex trade across the Silk Road to China.

And yet it was with the development of efficient, large ships that trade — and global wealth — began to multiply. This was compounded in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as two great manmade canals — the Suez and Panama — took advantage of the mechanization of ships to create a stable, rapid and increasingly reliable heavy freight capability.

Several great maritime arteries today are the definitive choke-points for international trade, and therefore international stability and wealth: the Suez-Red Sea sea-lane; the Panama Canal; and two natural waterways, the Danube River system and the Strait of Malacca.

It could be argued that the global economies were damaged significantly and measurably when, in 1967, the Suez Canal was closed during the Six Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Equally, there was another great economic hiatus when, in 1984, Libya’s Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi ordered the laying of floating ocean mines in the Red Sea from the minelayer Ghat, a move which caused insurance companies to refuse to allow merchant vessels, including oil tankers, from transiting that sea lane leading to and from the Suez Canal, forcing traffic around the long and arduous Cape of Good Hope sea route.

Today, we take the great arterial sea and waterway trade for granted and focus more on the impact of air transportation. Indeed, the rôle of aviation to the development of trade and strategic power is unquestionable, but the movement of large numbers of people and large volumes of commodities and finished goods depends, even today, overwhelmingly on sea transport.

It is necessary to understand this global matrix to provide a context for understanding the paramount significance of the Horn of Africa to the stability of the global trading system and therefore its significance to the wealth of nations and peoples.

Indeed, it is an obvious geopolitical link to see how the fortunes of the Red Sea/Suez sea lane are tied to the Horn of Africa; they are inseparable from each other. And it is easy to see why a variety of states — from Egypt and Israel, and from the United States to Australia — are so sensitive to the wellbeing of this sea lane; their lives depend on it, as do the welfares of much of Western Europe and Japan.

Arguably, at some point, perhaps 20 to 50 years into the future, Japan will see a unified Korean Peninsula adjacent to it, allowing the completion of a rail link which will provide extremely rapid, “just-in-time” shipping of Japanese manufactured goods to Western Europe. Right now, at least 40 percent of Japan’s high-value exports are sitting on ships at any given time, tying up enormous investments — literally 40 percent of the cost of those exports — for all the time those goods are at sea. Reducing tied-up capital enables greater investment turnover, dramatically accelerating economic growth.

But it should be assumed that even a major arterial railroad linking the foot of the Korean Peninsula with Western Europe would not diminish in any way the vital ocean traffic moving through the Red Sea/Suez link nor the South China Sea and Malacca choke-points along the way to and from Japan.

The question, then, is how the vital element — the Red Sea/Suez link — can be safeguarded.

The existing approach, as I noted, has been to focus on the sea lane itself, and on the littorals: the coastlines of Somalia, Somaliland, Djibouti, Eritrea, Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. But history has taught us that the health of the littorals is merely the symptomatic reflection of the health of the hinterlands behind them, just as the health of a person’s skin is a reflection of inner health.

The great 19th Century British strategist and geopolitician, Sir Halford J. Mackinder, who is far too overlooked today in this world of quick-fixes and instant technologies, talked about the critical relationship between heartlands and rimlands. He who controls the heartland controls the rimland. Perhaps I should add here the caveat that he who controls and utilizes or develops the wealth and strength of the heartland controls the rimland.

In the context of the security of the Red Sea/Suez sea littoral, on the African side, the heartland focuses around the wealth and power created by the benefits deriving from source of the Blue Nile: the highland Plateau of Ethiopia. Significantly, it is this natural wealth — today largely unexploited following years of destruction by the Stalinist Dergue which took power away from the Ethiopian people in 1974 — and the inherent power over the source of most of the Nile waters, which places Ethiopia at a strategic crossroad. Perhaps I should say it places Ethiopia in “the strategic cross-hairs”, for this natural asset of which Ethiopia is the custodian, the Nile, makes Egypt nervous and defensive.

The Government of Egypt — which has roughly the same size population as Ethiopia — has said that the only natural cassus belli, or cause of war, for it would be an interference with the flow of Nile waters. And yet despite the fact that the flow of Nile waters has never been materially affected by any actions in Ethiopia, such is the strategic and iconographic importance of the Nile to Egyptian survival that governments in Cairo seek and demand assurances and rights from Ethiopia over the flow of Nile waters. It could be argued that the Nile is one of the great strategic waterways of the world which is not as important for the goods carried on it as for the water itself, which Egypt regards as its own.

As a result, Egypt’s strategic actions with regard to the Red Sea are governed by its innate fears — which have never been even close to reality — of Ethiopian intentions with regard to the Nile. Egypt today, for example, favors the former Ethiopian territory of Eritrea, now an independent state, and encourages its hostility toward Ethiopia. Equally, it works to ensure that the Arab League and African Union do not recognize the sovereignty of Somaliland, which in 1991 reverted to its independent status with the collapse of the Somalia union. By keeping Somaliland unrecognized, Egypt attempts to deny Ethiopia access to the sea, but in reality — as with the fueling of Eritrean-Ethiopian hostility — succeeds only in sustaining instability in the Horn of Africa.

Eritrea, in fact, is a classic example of the dependence of rimlands on heartlands. Almost its entire wealth has been dependent on its historic rôle as an entrepot; a transition from the shipping lines, which have linked it from the times of ancient Greece with European, Arabian and South Asian traders, to the heartlands of Ethiopia. Specifically, Eritrea was the area through which the great coffee exports of the Abyssinian highlands — from the area of Kaffe, from whence coffee takes its name — were bought and sold to foreign buyers.

Even when Eritrea sought and obtained its independence in 1993, with the blessing of the new Ethiopian leadership which followed the ruthless suppression of Ethiopia and its then-province, Eritrea, by the Dergue, the coffee trade continued to provide wealth to the Ethiopian farmers and to Eritrean traders. It was only when Eritrean leader Isayas Afewerke decided to create a new national currency, the nakfa, did the great schism begin between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and it was a schism in which Egypt, Libya and others supported Eritrea in the belief that Eritrea, not the now-landlocked Ethiopia, held the key to Red Sea security. Significantly, the nakfa was not backed by an innately strong economy in Eritrea, and was not an internationally tradable currency, and yet Eritrea insisted that Ethiopian farmers take this currency in exchange for the coffee. Ethiopia would, however, only accept its own currency, birr, which could be used locally, or a foreign hard currency.

Ethiopia, faced with a refusal by Eritrea to pay for the coffee other than with nakfa, indicated that it would export its coffee through other ports, and Djibouti immediately began to prosper as the ancient trade route linking Ethiopia and Djibouti was given a new lease of life. The antagonism which arose between Ethiopia and Eritrea was compounded by the fact that the new Eritrean currency was named after the Nakfa mountain range, which had been the symbol of rebel armed resistance to Ethiopia.

And it was this impasse over currency which actually led Eritrea to economic ruin and the necessity for its leadership to seek some form of distraction from the decline which beset the country. It sought, and very nearly succeeded, in destroying the Ethiopian Government, by claiming that Ethiopia was occupying Eritrean territory and using this as a pretext for war. Ethiopia, after years of civil war, was unprepared; It only united in time to expel the Eritreans and, essentially, win the war.

And yet the war still hangs over the region. Eritrea remains without a resource to sell; it had once been the world’s fourth-largest coffee exporter, and yet it grew little coffee, dealing only in the supplies brought down to the coast by Ethiopian farmers. Eritrean ports languish today, empty of ships. And so Eritrea subsists on foreign favors, to a large extent, encouraged by Egypt, Libya and others, to persist with its hostility toward Ethiopia, rather than rebuilding the ties which would benefit both states.

Ethiopia has begun to recover; it has innate strengths, traditional natural wealth and a large — 60-million-plus — population. It has developed the renewed trading route through Djibouti, and is now rebuilding and expanding its overland links through Somaliland to the port city of Berbera, on the Gulf of Aden. And yet Eritrea, Egypt and Libya, which have essentially led the Arab League to support their initiative, have also attempted to starve Somaliland of trade and recognition. The extensive Saudi imports of Somaliland lamb have ceased, impoverishing this stable and moderate country.

Eritrea and Libya support insurgent groups operating in and through Somalia to act against both Somaliland and Ethiopia. We should remember that Ethiopia developed over the past few thousand years as a classic empire, comprised of a great number of ethnic or communal groups, with some 60 languages and dialects spoken under an umbrella of the Amharic language. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, the Ethiopian language, Amharic, or Amarigne, is derived from a root language, Ge’ez, which is itself derived from Aramaic. Ge’ez is, by way of comparison, the “latin” or base of a number of the regional languages of the Ethiopian empire, including Tigrigne, the language spoken by Eritreans and the people of the neighboring Ethiopian province, Tigré (Tigray).

The other two countries of the Horn on which we have not yet touched, Somalia and Sudan, are themselves severely challenged at present, particularly Somalia, which is, in a real sense, not a nation-state at all, its only productive constituent member, Somaliland, having withdrawn in 1991 from the union into which it had voluntarily entered as an independent and sovereign state on July 1, 1960, with the former Italian Somaliland. So it is ironic today that lawless Somalia — essentially what was Italian Somaliland — today is recognized as a state, even though it does not have a functioning government, while democratic, stable Somaliland — what had originally been British Somaliland — is denied recognition although it is a true sovereign state.

To be sure, the fears of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and possibly Libya, are only partially about Ethiopia’s control of the Nile. They also fear that Ethiopia, which was at one time a Jewish state but which has historically, since the Fifth Century, been a Christian-led state, would give Israel a base in the region and would give Israel a strong capability to control trade through the Red Sea. For the same reason, they oppose Somaliland, which, unlike Ethiopia, has virtually a totally-Muslim population, fearing that Somaliland’s strong embrace of secular, democratic government would also lead it to enter into deals with Israel so that Israel could base military units and warships there to dominate the mouth of the Red Sea.

It is true that Ethiopia has an Orthodox Christian majority population, but the Christian section of Ethiopian society is only marginally larger than the Ethiopian Muslim society. Significantly, Ethiopian Muslims tend to be strongly nationalist Ethiopians, but now face an attempt by Wahabbists from across the Red Sea to politicize them and separate them from their Orthodox Christian brethren. This is unfortunate, because it was an Ethiopian King who saved the disciples of the Prophet Mohammed when they were pursued by the rulers of Arabia at that time. As a result of this, the Prophet issued an instruction that no attempts should be made to proselytize or attack the Ethiopian people.

Today, this stricture of the Prophet is forgotten, and that Ethiopia, the great friend of the Muslim peoples, is treated shabbily by Mulsim-ruled Egypt and by the Arab League.

Indeed, Egypt’s, Eritrea’s and the world trading communities’ interests are best served by a healthy and strong Ethiopia. A weak and unstable Ethiopia contributes to ongoing weakness and instability in Eritrea, Djibouti, Somaliland, Somalia, Egypt and Sudan. This, it goes without saying, not only causes hardship at all levels throughout the region, but also into the Mediterranean, onto which Egypt looks. An economically weak Egypt, and one which is troubled, has profound implications for the spread of radicalism and for the continuation of the Arab-Israeli difficulties. A weak Egypt is bad for all of the Middle East, which looks to Cairo for strength and leadership.

So in this regard, while it is understandable that the international community should indeed be concerned about the stability of Eritrea, it should also look to the core of regional stability, Ethiopia, as the heart in the Horn of Africa heartland. Fortunately, Ethiopia has begun the slow path back to economic and social reconstruction, despite being deprived of its native access to the sea. However, the ongoing weakness of Eritrea places its ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice in the position where it will almost certainly again, and very soon, seek another war with Ethiopia as a way of gaining international support and aid, and as a way of suppressing internal frustrations which stem from the economic decline in this formerly vibrant area.

This is not speculation. We know that the Eritrean Government continues to fund, train and arm insurgents aimed at damaging the Somaliland Government so that Ethiopia would be deprived of a viable sea outlet to supplement Djibouti. We know that Eritrea is funding, arming and supporting other groups which aim to destabalize Ethiopia. And we know, even in the past few weeks, that Eritrea has begun, once again, recruiting Russian mercenaries to fly its combat aircraft and run specialized military units. This can only be in anticipation of a new war with Ethiopia.

The last war cost all of the peoples of the region most dreadfully in human terms as well as crippling the regional economies. But it also hampered the movement back toward the kind of democratically-representative government whose idea was in its infancy.

It is unfortunate that Ethiopia, the only part of Africa never to have been formed as a result of colonization and which has its thousands of years of history as a sovereign state with its own language and literature — unique in Africa — is today less than understood in Western policy circles. Ethiopia is a country of unrivalled beauty, history, complexity and strategic importance. It is the font of all societal evolution; it was from Ethiopia than communities formed, and spread to the rest of the world. As such, it is a pillar in all civilizational development. I urge you to explore for yourself its wonders, mysteries and beauties. You will then start to see its strategic and geopolitical importance to the world.

Africa needs Ethiopia to be strong and Addis Ababa, its continental capital. It is home today to the African Union. Ethiopia was the inspiration of the African independence movements and of the phenomenon of pan-Africanism. But Ethiopia is also an asset, and a vital component, of the global trading and security structure.

We cannot afford to allow another war to occur against it.  

It is only then that the real war against the unholy trinity of poverty, disease and illiteracy can continue and unleash the potential of the region and the continent in a spirit of unity and tolerance.


November 20, 2003

Address of HIH Prince Ermias to the Prester John Friendship Association of Portugal

Your Royal Highness Dom Duarte, Duque of Bragança, Members of the Orders of the Ethiopian Imperial House, Founding Members and Members of the Prester John Association of Portugal; Ladies and Gentleman,

In the light of the success of our recent historic visit to Portugal, it pleases us greatly to greet you all today at this the first gathering of the Prester John Portuguese – Ethiopian friendship Association.

Although we regret we cannot be with you in person today, we do wish to address you with this message conveyed courtesy of our representative for Portugal, His Excellency Carlos Evaristo.

We appreciate each and every one of your contributions to the positive outcome of our first trip to Portugal and the Portuguese warm hospitality shown us, which rekindled the fires of the ancient Luso – Ethiopian ties.

Centuries ago, our ancestors called upon the Portuguese King and his peoples for help and his knights came to our rescue aiding us in battle and helping us defeat our Moslem oppressors.  Today Ethiopia once again turns to Portugal for help and assistance.  This time, not for military aid against an army but for humanitarian aid to combat famine.

Unbeknownst to many people of the world, Ethiopia stand today on the verge of the worst famine in over a century.  Both medical and nutritional supplies are lacking to prevent the silence massacre of tens of thousands and perhaps millions. As is common, children and the sick and elderly are unfortunately always the most affected.

It is the intention of the Haile Selassie Foundation to continue to help our beloved homeland but we cannot do it alone and so today we ask each and every one of you here today to help the Prester John Luso-Ethiopian Association bring help to suffering Ethiopians.

I ask especially the Knights of our Imperial Orders to help raise necessary funds for this charity.

In February of 2004, it is our hope to personally travel to our headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to view on the ground, the outreach of humanitarian aid and the distribution of food supplies.  At our recent meeting with Dom Duarte in Virginia we invited His Royal Highness to accompany us on this mission. A mission we would like to present as a truly Luso – Ethiopian mission:  The Haile Selassie Foundation and The Prester John Association.

We take this opportunity to welcome our new members and wish you all a forthcoming blessed Christmas season and prosperous year 2004. With Our sincere gratitude, prayers and fraternal best wishes.


His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, Boston, May 13, 1999

Working Toward the Promise of the Blessing of Ethiopian Unity

What a pleasure it is to be with you in Boston today to be able to celebrate with Ethiopians and non-Ethiopians alike the importance of the preservation of Ethiopia’s unique and rich culture and heritage. I would like to thank the Ethiopian Community in Boston and the Ethiopian National Congress for inviting me to make a few remarks today on our beloved country. Unfortunately, I must leave you today after this gathering to return to Philadelphia where one of the champions of Ethiopian freedom, Dr Asrat Woldeyes, lies gravely ill, the result of many years of illegal and cruel imprisonment. His life has been shortened by intolerance, but his legacy lengthened by his resistance to this fact.

* * * *

Boston recently witnessed the stamina and grace of Fatuma Roba in the Boston Marathon. By winning the race, and raising our Ethiopian flag high, she championed what is best in all of us. Fatuma reminded us of the power of perseverance, the will to win against all odds. Fatuma brought to the world, in a flash, the focus of international admiration. She inspired and motivated us with her pride in her Ethiopianness.

Today, because of incessant civil wars, there are attempts to polarize Ethiopian society into its various national elements, undoing the painstaking historical process of unification. Pride in Ethiopianness is discouraged today by those who control our country. Amharas are no longer expected to look out for the interests of Oromos; the Oromos are not expected to care about the fate of Tigreans, and so on.

Is this really “progress”? Is this really “self-determination”? Xenophobia is the opposite of the kind of expansive and embracing national pride which Fatuma Roba showed us.

In a world increasingly dominated by global languages, global economic trends, and seamlessly-integrated communications, can we expect that the life of an Oromo-speaking child will be better because someone said: “Your own language is the source of all pride and all attempts at working with your kinsmen across a nearby border are worthless.”?

Of course not!

Yes! it is important to know your local language, culture and customs. Yes! it is important to bring decisionmaking processes closer to the people. But ethnic chauvinism is the ugly face of ethnic politics.

Politicians wish to retain power regardless of the fact that they cannot inspire the many and richly-varied people of the Great Ethiopian Empire to support a common dream. The kind of ethnic federalism we see in Ethiopia today is a method to divide and rule the people, so that those in power, who are a minority, may not be challenged. What the world is weeping about in the former Yugoslavia is the problem which Ethiopians have been bearing for the past six years. In Ethiopia, “ethnic cleansing”, chauvinism and hatred have been conducted without television cameras, while an unwitting world applauded what it called “a new generation of leaders” in Africa. It seems like the same old generation of suspicion, hatred and greed to many of us.

We have seen our society become less tolerant, more isolated, and embroiled in yet another spate of internal and regional conflicts. This, in a region where instability reigns, is a very worrisome feature.

Where we should be tackling the problems of poverty, lack of education, AIDS and the lack of adequate healthcare generally, as well as the lack of infrastructure, we are being lured by the macabre sideshow of another war: the very fundamental negation of human rights.

Ethiopians have created a courageous and inherently democratic society of peoples. So where people demand the right to ask questions, the government must not take this to be a subversive act. It is a fundamental right! We must all learn to practice the art of negotiation and avoid resort to war. We have tried war, and it has aged us beyond the unbroken 3,000 years of our unified culture.

And if Ethiopians are fundamentally courageous and democratic, they are also proud and fiercely independent. We have jealously guarded our independence to a degree never seen in any other country in the world. We have never allowed our country to be submerged into a colonial entity. Our forefathers have sacrificed heavily for this. And so many more Ethiopians in recent months and years have sacrificed themselves for the preservation of Ethiopia.

We must not become a lost generation, succumbing to greed, selfishness and anarchy. We must begin to build an increasingly harmonious and prosperous society.

We will not achieve this, however, if we jeopardize our national ability to unite in order to respond to threats to our security and sovereignty.

Unless we — as individuals and as Ethiopian nations — absolutely and consciously commit to building a society which is founded on tolerance and respect for alternative views, one which is rooted in reconciliation, then we are further weakening our country. Ultimately, by inaction, or by mirroring the ethnic separatism of the ruling Addis politicians, we jeopardize our existence as a multi-communal, multi-religious state.

The administration in Ethiopia — if it is to build a civil society which retains Ethiopia’s present or historic borders — must make tangible changes in its policies.

Subjugation can only work for a while, and while subjugation is in place, prosperity is absent.

Through all of this, the Ethiopian Crown remains there for the people of Ethiopia, as their impartial symbol of unity. It is there to offer inspiration and hope. It is there to protect the Constitution of the People’s choice.

The Crown must remain above politics, and offer the long-term leadership which establishes the framework of society, the freedom of peoples to accord each other respect, the freedom of people to work together to progress the wellbeing and happiness of all.

The Crown is there to remind Ethiopians of every communal, linguistic and religious group of their proud history.

We pray to see our flag — raised here in Boston by Fatuma Roba — fly high and proudly once more in Ethiopia. For what made Ethiopia a uniquely proud culture was the fact that the Ethiopian Lion Flag flew over a number of uniquely proud cultures which came together and by consensus created a sum even greater than the total of its parts.

An astronaut in the United States once said that the technology which took him to the heavens was the sum of many parts, each made by the lowest bidder. Ethiopia is the sum of many parts each made by the highest bidders: the peoples who have given their lives to the fulfillment of their cultures. Ethiopia as a whole has a quality based on the historic and unique brilliance of its individual parts. And only by consensus does this society move safely, confidently and intact into the future.

Thank you.

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ESSwithKrulak.JPG

HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie with the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General Charles Krulak and Mrs Krulak in Washington DC recently.

Article by HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie in “Defense & Foreign Affairs STRATEGIC POLICY” journal, 2, 1999

The Restoration of Stability Along the Red Sea is a Global Priority

It may be easy to see why the European powers and the United States are preoccupied with the conflicts of the Balkans. They are physical squabbles being undertaken in the front parlor of their societies, where tranquility has reigned for 50 years. They are boisterous and dangerous and threaten — right in the face of the world’s most powerful media and political bodies — to expand into crises which could destroy or at least harm that peace and prosperity, and therefore the economic engines of the world.

The greater Horn of Africa crisis now underway in “the boiler room” of the global economy is, however, of even more immediate concern to the United States and the West. It is a crisis which is little understood globally, and which — when it is viewed at all — is seen in fragmentary terms and without any understanding of history or broader strategic ramifications.

The current Eritrea-Ethiopia war — still not fully concluded at the end of February 1999 — and the radical external forces bent on breaking up Ethiopia are part of the regional human tragedy which affect me and my compatriots personally with the destruction of our very homes and cultures, but there are broader and very real strategic issues which make the situation of immediate concern to the United States and the other major world powers.

There are numerous interlocking pieces to the strategic mosaic, all of which affect the global economy and the relative position of the United States as the world’s remaining effective force capable of sustained power brokerage. In broad terms, these include:

  • The security of the Red Sea/Suez Canal Sea Lane of Communication (SLOC), which vitally affects East-West trade (not just the oil trade) between Europe and Asia, including particularly Japan and Australia. Within this context, the ability of Israel and Jordan to maintain adequate maritime access to the Red Sea (and therefore world trade) is significant;
  • The containment of organized transnational radicalism as a structured antagonist toward the global trading community;
  • The destabilization of Egypt, a country which, apart from its vital geopolitical position controlling the Suez Canal/Red Sea SLOC, is the cornerstrone of the Arab-Israeli Peace Process;
  • The management of the Nile waters, critical to the stability, prosperity and growth of Sudan, Egypt, and now the Palestinian areas, and therefore, again, the Peace Process;
  • The containment of the spread of radicalism down into Africa, a process currently occurring from Sudan’s National Islamic Front (NIF) Government, and with the assistance of Iran, but which is also being fostered by, for example, Eritrean support for radical separatist Oromo forces designed to break up Ethiopia still further;
  • Ensuring the freedom of Israel and Jordan to have access to the Red Sea SLOC, vital to their security and prosperity.

There are many subsidiary aspects to all of these points, particularly involving the costs of the human tragedies of wars, repression and ignorant policies on the peoples of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. But let us dwell on just one question to begin with:

What would happen to the West’s position if the Government of Egypt was overthrown and a radical Islamist state created in its place? (And there is a direct causal relationship to such an eventuality as a result of the success of the radical initiatives which have been sponsored out of Sudan and backed by Iran, despite the current ptial rapprochement between Egypt and “official” Sudan, as opposed to the “unofficial” Sudanese leadership.)

In Ethiopia, the revolution against the Dergue did not succeed because of victories on the battlefield. We cannot forget that it was the collapse of the Soviet Union which forced the consequent collapse of the extremist Dergue leadership of Ethiopia in 1991. When the West was preoccupied with Iraq and the break-up of the USSR, it was Sudan which fielded two divisions of armor into Ethiopia with the aim of putting its own allies, the Tigré Popular Liberation Front (TPLF) into power in Ethiopia, and its then allies in Eritrea, the Eritrean Popular Liberation Front (EPLF; now PFDJ) into office in a newly-created break-away independent state.

As noted earlier, the two communist groups, the TPLF (now EPRDF) and the EPLF, did not come into power because of their great successes on the battlefield. They achieved power because of the collapse of the USSR and the timely support of a country which has as its stated aim the radicalization of the region. Sudan intends, according to the NIF’s spiritual and philosophical leader, Dr Hassan al-Turabi, to break up Ethiopia into a patchwork of Islamist states, and to overthrow Egypt and bring it under radical Islamist leadership. Ethiopia is currently the only country in the Middle East to have a harmonious balance of Muslims and Orthodox Christians.

Dr al-Turabi and his colleagues did not assist in the overthrow of the Dergue and the break-up of Ethiopia in 1991 to help the Ethiopian and Eritrean peoples, but as part of an ongoing program of the export of radicalism which has already extended throughout Africa, even into South Africa.

If Egypt’s moderate Government was overthrown and replaced by radicals, it is likely that the peace accords with Israel would be disavowed, and Saudi Arabia would face increasing radical pressure without the back-up of the major regional power, and the US would lack the Egyptian facilities (which it had for the 1990-91 Gulf Crisis) to support Saudi Arabia. The Red Sea-Suez SLOC — which was closed down completely in 1974 by the dropping of four sea-mines from the Libyan minelayer Ghat — would become, once again, a “no go” area for world shipping. Ethiopia and Eritrea would become further isolated, and radicalization would spread more easily down through Kenya and into East and Central Africa.

In other words, the hope of an African economic turnaround would be further jeopardized. There would be a trend toward radical, anti-Western positions being taken from Iran, down through Arabia, the Horn and North Africa, into sub-Saharan Africa. Major sea traffic would be re-routed around the Cape of Good Hope, once again, adding significantly to the costs of international trade.

All of this is developing at a time of growing polarization between the West and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). There is little doubt but that the PRC has already been of significant strategic assistance to Iran, and this assists Iranian support of Sudan and the overall export of radicalism. The fact that the PRC has a treaty alliance with North Korea (DPRK) adds to the texture and substance of an emerging new radical, or at least anti-Western, bloc. It would be easy to sensationalize this as a coherent, planned development of a new bi-polar world. Clearly, it is not: it is a situation which is evolving organically.

The world is by default drifting into new alignments by the coincidence of activities.

My Grandfather, Emperor Haile Selassie I, warned the League of Nations in 1935 of the emergence of the then-newly-emerging tyranny of fascism. He received too little support, too late. Ethiopia was invaded by Italy in part because Britain and France at first indicated their disinterest in Italy’s intentions. The result was that once Italy had invaded, it took years of hard fighting to remove them. Ethiopia was rescued only as a result of World War II, which galvanized the international effort against fascism and nazism, and gave support to the Ethiopian resistance which had fought the Italian invasion since 1935.

A new process of strategic imbalance is occurring again today, and once again the warning signals come from the broader Middle East, and area which includes not only Arabia and the Levant, but also the Horn of Africa, as well as North Africa, and the Northern Tier.

The restoration of unity, peace and economic growth in Ethiopia, and the suppression of radicalization exported from the Sudan (and aided currently for tactical reasons in some aspects from Eritrea) will go a long way to ensuring peace for Egypt. The stability of Egypt is of vital concern to us all, but it cannot occur if the upstream Nile countries of Sudan and Ethiopia are in chaos or are radicalized.

It is difficult for observers outside the region to comprehend the absolute importance of the Nile to this equation. Egypt has said that, short of invasion by a foreign power, only interference with the flow of Nile waters would be sufficient to provoke the nation into a new war. Officials from the current Ethiopian civil Administration have already called for a reconsideration of the 1959 Agreement for the Full Utilization of the Nile Waters, which allocates the entire flow of the river to the Sudan and Egypt.

Ethiopia is already beginning work on a strategy to develop a range of micro-dams which could reduce downstream flow of the Nile by some seven-billion cubic meters (bcm) a year. Egypt already uses all of its 55bcm/year quota and is working on new irrigation schemes for the Sinai desert (which would require some 5.5bcm/year) and is considering projects which would feed Nile water to the Palestinian lands.

The Nile question, then, is already one which provokes great concern. But it would provoke still more concern if Ethiopia was to be further dismembered and those patchwork new states which would be created were radicalized, as Dr al-Turabi and his allies wish. There would be little hope of achieving a balanced water-useage consensus then.

Threats to the Red Sea SLOCs jeopardize half od Egypt's foreign exchange earnings. Threats to its tourist trade threaten the other half of its foreign exchange earnings. Threats to constrain the amount of Nile waters which Egypt can use jeopardize Egypt's internal prosperity, growth and stability.

Ethiopia, until 1974, played a key role in ensuring free access to the Red Sea SLOCs by the international community. Today, that role is constrained because of the war which Eritrea began against Ethiopia and the fact that — despite some 3,000 years of harmonious marriage of Ethiopian and Eritrean interests — Ethiopia is currently denied its traditional access to the Red Sea. Because of the hostility from Eritrea, Ethiopia is forced to expand its relations with Djibouti, upgrading the road and rail communications links so that Ethiopian exports can reach the international market.

But the war which Eritrea began with Ethiopia in 1998 may well see Eritrean elements spurred in their rebellion against the Government of President Isayas Afewerke. Already, the Afar peoples — a largely Muslim group on the Djibouti border, extending into Eritrea and Ethiopia — have begun to rebel, and their territory, including the port city of Assab, could well opt out of the fragile Eritrean state and elect to throw its lot, once more, in with Ethiopia. Certainly that appears to be the direction which Bitwoded Ali Mera, Sultan of the Afars, is taking.

So in the end, the current war between Ethiopia and Eritrea may restore Ethiopia’s access to the sea. Already, it has forced a new alliance with Djibouti which effectively restores Ethiopia’s sea access. In one way or another, Ethiopia will have access to, and influence over, the strategic control of the Red Sea.

Even the Eritrean Labour Party, which has been suppressed by the Isayas Government, said on February 20, 1999: “We are open to Ethiopia’s legitimate right of access to the sea...We cannot think or dream of denying the other people of Ethiopia their natural right of ownership and access of the Red Sea. We cannot either deny the people of Eritrea the right to live in harmony and peace with the other peoples of Ethiopia with whom they share the same blood, religion, alphabet and language, culture and custom as well as an interwoven economic and political life from time immemorial.”

The longer the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea continues, the more damage it does to the infrastructures, economies and social adjustment of all the peoples of the region. Furthermore, while Ethiopia and Eritrea sap their energies in a futile conflict, other factors are at work which could lead to a further deterioration in Ethiopia’s unity, and in the overall stability of the region.

We know from history that any conflict in a region affects more than the directly warring parties. In the case of the current crisis in the Horn of Africa, we see the security of the Red Sea jeopardized; we see a failure to resolve the ongoing crisis in Somalia because there can be no focus on this problem while Ethiopia and Eritrea are at war.

We have seen, thus far, a failure of all international efforts aimed at bringing about a mediated end to the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. As a result, the prestige of the United States has suffered enormously in Africa, as has the prestige of the Organization for African Unity (OAU) which is based in Addis Ababa.

There are Ethiopians and Eritreans who actively wish for peace and a new harmony between our peoples. What we are witnessing today is, in one part, a legacy of the colonial era, during which Italy worked to divide Eritrea away from its co-religionists and historical partners further inland. We are also witnessing a legacy of the Cold War, because the parties now in power in Addis Ababa and Asmara are there as a result firstly of the Soviet support for the Dergue, followed by the collapse of the Dergue when the Soviet Union collapsed.

What was occurring in Ethiopia before the Soviet-backed Dergue siezed power was the peaceful and successful evolution of a traditional state, steeped in customs and traditions dating back 3,000 and more years, to a Constitutional Monarchy, with an elected, democratic Parliament, a free press, with the freedom of its citizens to worship and assemble as they pleased. We saw the wellbeing of the society modernize from 1930 to 1974 at a pace which was dizzying. And the coup occurred in 1974 not because of the failure of Ethiopia to progress under Emperor Haile Selassie, but because many entrenched elements in the bureaucracy and society refused to advance at the pace which the Emperor wished. If there was a revolutionary in Ethiopia, then it was my Grandfather, Emperor Haile Selassie.

What we are witnessing today is a society led by people who arrived on the scene by accident; who are mired in divisive, petty squabbling. The result is that the region is divided and at risk. And the risk is one shared by the entire world: a further breakdown in the region could lead to the collapse of the pivotal powers, and a total disruption of the trade routes and the Middle Eastern oil trade. But worse than this, by not seeing the Ethiopia-Eritrea dispute in the broader context — and acting accordingly — the world may be condemning the peoples of the region, including those of Egypt and North Africa, Arabia and the Northern Tier, to many more years of despair.

Ends

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“New Winds Over Africa” Briefing to the United States Congress, Washington DC: September 24, 1998

The Monarchy’s Role in Preserving Ethiopia’s Peace, Unity and Stability

Submission by: His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

The world is noting with concern the growing intensity of conflicts in Africa, including Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Democratic Republic of sthe Congo, the impasse in the peace process in Angola, continued violence in Sierra Leone and civil wars and emergencies in Somalia and Sudan.

In the case of Ethiopia and Eritrea the new outbreak of hostilities after decades of civil war signals a major setback in a volitile region plagued by instability, terror and chaos. In the absensce of a clear committment for a peaceful resolution to the conflict there will be no one military victor. The war can easily drag on diverting valuable time and resources away from development but end up engulfing other countries in the process.

It is now certain that at least two of Africa’s “new generation of leaders” on which the west invested so heavily to bring a measure of stability and development to the region and the continent as vanguards of the “African Renaissance” have not learnt from past mistakes. What is also becoming increasingly clear is that authoritarian rule established on shaky foundations will not last long before imploding on itself. In Ethiopia’s case the Mele’s Administration replaced a very brutal military dictatorship, but his administration has intentionally divided Ethiopia and set it against itself that even if it survives the current crises it has sawn the seeds of further civil war and increased radicalism. Leadership is not simply to outshine your more blatant predecessor.

True leadership is all about the inspiration of people to see the vision of what greatness is possible within them and within their own broad communities, and then in causing the energies, talents and willpower of those people to be focused toward achieving that greatness. Today, there are those who call themselves leaders merely because they are at the helm of a ship of state, going where the great masses take them. They find consensus in the whims of spontaneous political combustion; they do not create consensus through the presentation of a well conceived vision, which embraces wisdom, planning and the demonstration of justice.

Monarchical tradition stretches back for 3,000 years in Ethiopia. But I am not here to bask in history, although I must refer to it for lessons which we may not, must not, forget. I am here to plead for the future of Ethiopia; to tell you that the future can be restored to the people of Ethiopia as Ethiopians as well as Tigreans, Oromos, Amharas, Afars, and so on. Each time Ethiopia has prospered domestically and internationally it has been because the country has been led by inspired men who placed the good of their people above their own or group needs. It can be so again.

Today, many politicians are adept in securing the appearance of consensus for their policies, through tactics of distraction, deception, and by creating doubts and division between peoples. It is no coincidence that, because of the demands of modern media, politics today is very much akin to the professional conjurer. For many politicians, it is believed that there is no time to consider the broad and long-term public good when publics clamor for immediate and easy solutions. To survive, politicians pander to their own or to the public’s demand rather than its needs; feeding people a diet of blame, hatred, suspicion; in a word: distraction. The problems, they say, are all the fault of their predecessors, our neighbors, “the great Satan”: anybody else. It is no wonder that we are, in Ethiopia as well as the rest of the world, growing into a society which forgets the happiness and pride of working toward the goal of common good and historic values, and instead believes that each man and his narrow cliques must grab what little profit and relief they can before someone else will steal it.

Under such circumstances, can any member of society be expected to go out of his way to help his neighbor? Can any individual be expected, ultimately, to put his family (in the broadest interpretation of the word) ahead of himself; or to see himself as a functioning and important part of a society which embraces differences in ethnicity, language, religion, and yet which strives toward a common goal?

Today, in Ethiopia, we see a policy being implemented by those in control of the administrative apparatus of the country, of “divide and rule”. Pride in Ethiopianness is discouraged; the Empire is nothing but a collection of self-interested small states working without regard to their neighbors. Amharas are no longer expected to look out for the interests of the Oromos; the Oromos are not expected to care about the fate of the Tigreans; and so on.

Why is this? Is this “progress” disguised as “self-determination”? In a world increasingly dominated by global languages, global economic trends, and seamlessly integrated communications, can we expect that the life of an Oromo-speaking child will be better because someone said: “Your own language is the source of all pride, and all attempts at working with your kinsmen across a nearby border are worthless”? Of course not.

Why is this happening? I will tell you. It is because politicians wish to retain power regardless of the fact that they cannot inspire the many and richly-varied people of the great Ethiopian empire to support a common dream. These politicians represent a fraction of six percent of the population of Ethiopia. They did not come to power in the name of Ethiopia; they came to power in the name of Tigre. And I do not disparage their belief that Tigre has rights; that Tigre is something special in Ethiopia. But I do not agree that in order for a Tigrean group to govern Ethiopia they must do so by merely dividing the country so that their minority rule cannot be challenged. This is not leadership.

The Constitution that the EPRDF promulgated against the public’s will embodies a classic “divide and conquer” philosophy that separates the country into Bosnia-style enclaves. This policy of ethnic division, offers separation without genuine devolution of power, which instead is centrally maintained by the EPRDF. This business of dividing people on the basis of ethnicity cannot succeed for long in a nation like ours where the major ethnic groups are intermarried and by mixing through trade and migrations have forged strong cultural links within a common identity over the centuries. The current policy has already exacerbated ethnic tensions. Ethnic cleansing and violence has already begun. Has the world learnt any lessons from the tragedies of Bosnia, Somalia or Rwanda?

Although Ethiopia is an ancient land with a proud history of maintaining her independence through unity, foreigners usually have little interest in the fact of her ethnic division, which they regard as an internal matter. But this unpopular policy truly does have international dimensions. A strong, united, prosperous and stable Ethiopia will make a far better partner to the West than one riven by internal schisms. The present policy has built-in contradictions that, over time, are bound to undermine the conditions necessary to foster stability in a volatile region. As US President Abraham Lincoln once said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The world needs an Ethiopia with its house in order.

The present policy of divide and conquer by a small minority relying on military force will never work in the moderate to long-term. Keep in mind that political opposition parties representing 80 percent of the country’s opposition boycotted the last national elections. It is clear that the only way to keep the country together, to defend its sovereignty and further economic development is to give every ethnic group a sense of participation and representation. Let the people choose the type of government they trust. A free press, impartial court system and rule of law which are currently lacking would further encourage stability.

So I ask you today: Can Ethiopia survive as a single nation-state if it lack’s a leadership which will inspire unity? And even if Ethiopia in the absence of unifying leadership is fortunate enough to escape the physical depredations of further secession or irredentist actions or invasion, can it in any event prosper? Will freedom be served? Will the interest of the people be served? And will we as a people, historically given the gift of a union and a special identity for millennia, fail in our destiny?

Let me hearken to our history, for history is the one thing which a 3,000-year-old Ethiopian monarchy knows well. The Monarchy has learned from history. And we would all do well to continue to learn from history, so as to avoid repetition of its mistakes, and to see that we, the monarchy, like all institutions, must adapt to reflect the societies we represent.

Emperor Haile-Selassie, spoke often of the need for unity among my people. He was clearly cognizant that in order for Ethiopia to maintain its independence and to play the important role it did in regional development and security during his time rested on its ability to bridge internal divisions. Ethiopian history has been a legacy of overcoming internal divisions as respective regions struggled along, warring with each other, without the benefit of cooperation, without the benefit of a united front to present to the world; indeed, without the ability to even interact with the outside world. There was little progress. If there was no great challenge, apart from the constant fear of attack, there was also no universal uplifting of hope, no rising economic wellbeing.

It was Emperor Téwodros II who again embraced the concept of national unity within the context of the Empire. Successive Monarch’s under Emperor Yohannes, Menelik II and Haile-Selassie realized that small collection of disunited states had no ability to act in their common good. They also realized that the ability to create unity was the means to create wealth: enough wealth for the country to withstand foreign pressures; enough wealth to start the process of real evolutionary societal and economic progress and wellbeing.

What, then, can the Crown of Ethiopia now do for its people after all our suffering?

The Crown’s period of inactivity, silence and retreat is over.

The Crown wishes to offer no empty gestures. Henceforth, we work only toward meaningful actions, under which the Crown begins again to offer protection and inspiration and hope to our people. What the Crown can offer right now is this:

Firstly, it can offer an impartial symbol of national unity to all Ethiopians. The Crown is not the crown of only one or two groups of Ethiopians. Although the Crown has long and traditional ties with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it is nonetheless the Crown of Ethiopians of all religions, favoring none above another, nor one ethnic or national or linguistic group above another;

Secondly, the Crown confers legitimacy, national dignity and respect. The actions of Emperors Menelik and Haile-Selassie brought international attention and acclaim to our nation in the most positive way. The actions of Mengistu and others like him brought our international reputation into distaste, and the perception of our leaders into the perspective of being self-serving, power-hungry tyrants. We should remember that because of the actions of Emperors Menelik and Haile-Selassie, Ethiopia represents the best of all African aspirations because of the major role she played in liberating Africa, in supporting Pan-Africanism and in providing a significant symbolic history for the liberation of black people from subjugation.

In addition, it is my hope that the Crown can provide a source of protection to Ethiopian refugees who have been scattered around the world in a diaspora unprecedented in our history.

Thirdly, we wish to offer Ethiopians within our country the fact that the Crown, which first introduced our society to modern advances during Emperors Menelik and Haile-Selassie eras, continues to evolve with the times. And in this context we want to provide an umbrella under which true multi-party democracy can function, with the Crown acting as the symbolic and effective guarantor of the Constitution of the people’s choice. The Crown must be above day-to-day politics, and must offer the long-term leadership which establishes the framework of society, the freedom for people to accord each other respect and cooperation, and therefore progress. The Crown must ensure that the forces of law and order are not subject to political misuse.

I would like to conclude my remarks by stating that Ethiopia’s current rulers had a tremendous opportunity to bring an era of reconciliation and progress to our nation. They have squandered this gift. The result is that our country has yet to embark on discovering its potential, both economically and as a bulwark for the world’s civilized strategic interests. Ethiopia could become the region’s breadbasket, be peaceful rather than lurching toward violence, become a regional stabilizer and be an example of the benefits of upholding the people’s interests through democracy and respect for human rights.

The Crown has stood the test of time.

Ethiopia should keep what has worked before, but innovate to keep up with the times, combining the best of the old and the new. By this I especially mean that the Crown can serve as the nation’s guarantor of democracy and human rights, enhancing the country’s ability to meet not only its own economic, social, and spiritual challenges but, by strengthening the social fabric, render Ethiopia stronger and better-prepared to defend its sovereignty, and play its share in the international battle against radicalism, chaos, instability and poverty. Of course, the world today being a smaller, more interdependent place, Ethiopia’s democrats need to work in close cooperation with our foreign friends and hope that we can count on your continued support and interest.

Ends

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Briefing to the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in the Treaty Room of the US Senate, Washington DC, October 14, 1998

The Monarchy’s Role in Achieving Ethiopia’s Peace, Unity and Stability

By His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia

The world is noting with concern the growing intensity of conflicts in Africa, including Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the impasse in the peace process in Angola, continued violence in Sierra Leone and civil wars and emergencies in Somalia and Sudan. In the case of Ethiopia and Eritrea, the new outbreak of hostilities after decades of civil war signals a major setback in a volatile region plagued by instability, terror and chaos. In the absence of a clear commitment for a peaceful resolution to the conflict there will be no military victor. The war can easily drag on, diverting valuable time and resources away from development, but at the same time end up engulfing other countries in the process.

It is now certain that at least two of Africa’s “new generation of leaders” — in whom the West invested so heavily to bring a measure of stability and development to the region and the continent as vanguards of the “African Renaissance” — have not learnt from past mistakes. What is also becoming increasingly clear is that authoritarian rule established on shaky foundations will not last long before imploding on itself. In Ethiopia’s case, the Meles’ Administration replaced a very brutal military dictatorship — Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Dergue — but Meles’s administration has intentionally divided Ethiopia and set it against itself, so that even if it survives the current crises it has sewn the seeds of further civil war and increased radicalism. It is not enough that a leadership simply changes its external image so that it appears to be an improvement over its more horrific predecessor. Because this is what the Meles administration has done. It has failed to grasp the need in Ethiopia, as in all countries, for real leadership.

True leadership is all about the inspiration of people to see the vision of what greatness is possible within them and within their own broad communities, and then in causing the energies, talents and willpower of those people to be focused toward achieving that greatness. Today, there are those who call themselves leaders merely because they are at the helm of a ship of state, going where the great masses take them. They find consensus in the whims of spontaneous political combustion; they do not create consensus through the presentation of a well conceived vision, which embraces wisdom, planning and the demonstration of justice.

Monarchical tradition stretches back for 3,000 years in Ethiopia. But I am not here to bask in history, although I must refer to it for lessons which we may not, must not, forget. I am here to plead for the future of Ethiopia; to tell you that the future can be restored to the people of Ethiopia as Ethiopians as well as Tigreans, Oromos, Amharas, Afars, and so on. Each time Ethiopia has prospered domestically and internationally it has been because the country has been led by inspired men who placed the good of their people above their own or group needs. It can be so again.

Today, many politicians are adept in securing the appearance of consensus for their policies, through tactics of distraction, deception, and by creating doubts and division between peoples. It is no coincidence that, because of the demands of modern media, politics today is very much akin to the professional conjurer. For many politicians, it is believed that there is no time to consider the broad and long-term public good when publics clamor for immediate and easy solutions. To survive, politicians pander to their own or to the public’s demand rather than its needs; feeding people a diet of blame, hatred, suspicion; in a word: distraction. The problems, they say, are all the fault of their predecessors, our neighbors, “the great Satan”: anybody else. It is no wonder that we are, in Ethiopia as well as the rest of the world, growing into a society which forgets the happiness and pride of working toward the goal of common good and historic values, and instead believes that each man and his narrow cliques must grab what little profit and relief they can before someone else will steal it.

Under such circumstances, can any member of society be expected to go out of his way to help his neighbor? Can any individual be expected, ultimately, to put his family (in the broadest interpretation of the word) ahead of himself; or to see himself as a functioning and important part of a society which embraces differences in ethnicity, language, religion, and yet which strives toward a common goal?

Today, in Ethiopia, we see a policy being implemented by those in control of the administrative apparatus of the country, of “divide and rule”. Pride in Ethiopianness is discouraged; the Empire is nothing but a collection of self-interested small states working without regard to their neighbors. Amharas are no longer expected to look out for the interests of the Oromos; the Oromos are not expected to care about the fate of the Tigreans; and so on.

Why is this? Is this “progress” disguised as “self-determination”? In a world increasingly dominated by global languages, global economic trends, and seamlessly integrated communications, can we expect that the life of an Oromo-speaking child will be better because someone said: “Your own language is the source of all pride, and all attempts at working with your kinsmen across a nearby border are worthless”? Of course not.

Why is this happening? I will tell you. It is because politicians wish to retain power regardless of the fact that they cannot inspire the many and richly-varied people of the great Ethiopian empire to support a common dream. These politicians represent a fraction of six percent of the population of Ethiopia. They did not come to power in the name of Ethiopia; they came to power in the name of Tigre. And I do not disparage their belief that Tigre has rights; that Tigre is something special in Ethiopia. But I do not agree that in order for a Tigrean group to govern Ethiopia they must do so by merely dividing the country so that their minority rule cannot be challenged. This is not leadership.

The Constitution that the EPRDF promulgated against the public’s will embodies a classic “divide and conquer” philosophy that separates the country into Bosnia-style enclaves. This policy of ethnic division, offers separation without genuine devolution of power, which instead is centrally maintained by the EPRDF. This business of dividing people on the basis of ethnicity cannot succeed for long in a nation like ours where the major ethnic groups are intermarried and by mixing through trade and migrations have forged strong cultural links within a common identity over the centuries. The current policy has already exacerbated ethnic tensions. Ethnic cleansing and violence has already begun. Has the world learnt any lessons from the tragedies of Bosnia, Somalia or Rwanda?

Although Ethiopia is an ancient land with a proud history of maintaining her independence through unity, foreigners usually have little interest in the fact of her ethnic division, which they regard as an internal matter. But this unpopular policy truly does have international dimensions. A strong, united, prosperous and stable Ethiopia will make a far better partner to the West than one riven by internal schisms. The present policy has built-in contradictions that, over time, are bound to undermine the conditions necessary to foster stability in a volatile region. As US President Abraham Lincoln once said: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” The world needs an Ethiopia with its house in order.

The present policy of divide and conquer by a small minority relying on military force will never work in the moderate to long-term. Keep in mind that political opposition parties representing 80 percent of the country’s opposition boycotted the last national elections. It is clear that the only way to keep the country together, to defend its sovereignty and further economic development is to give every ethnic group a sense of participation and representation. Let the people choose the type of government they trust. A free press, impartial court system and rule of law which are currently lacking would further encourage stability.

So I ask you today: Can Ethiopia survive as a single nation-state if it lack’s a leadership which will inspire unity? And even if Ethiopia in the absence of unifying leadership is fortunate enough to escape the physical depredations of further secession or irredentist actions or invasion, can it in any event prosper? Will freedom be served? Will the interest of the people be served? And will we as a people, historically given the gift of a union and a special identity for millennia, fail in our destiny?

Let me hearken to our history, for history is the one thing which a 3,000-year-old Ethiopian monarchy knows well. The Monarchy has learned from history. And we would all do well to continue to learn from history, so as to avoid repetition of its mistakes, and to see that we, the monarchy, like all institutions, must adapt to reflect the societies we represent.

Emperor Haile-Selassie, spoke often of the need for unity among my people. He was clearly cognizant that in order for Ethiopia to maintain its independence and to play the important role it did in regional development and security during his time rested on its ability to bridge internal divisions. Ethiopian history has been a legacy of overcoming internal divisions as respective regions struggled along, warring with each other, without the benefit of cooperation, without the benefit of a united front to present to the world; indeed, without the ability to even interact with the outside world. There was little progress. If there was no great challenge, apart from the constant fear of attack, there was also no universal uplifting of hope, no rising economic wellbeing.

It was Emperor Téwodros II who again embraced the concept of national unity within the context of the Empire. Successive Monarch’s under Emperor Yohannes, Menelik II and Haile-Selassie realized that small collection of disunited states had no ability to act in their common good. They also realized that the ability to create unity was the means to create wealth: enough wealth for the country to withstand foreign pressures; enough wealth to start the process of real evolutionary societal and economic progress and wellbeing.

What, then, can the Crown of Ethiopia now do for its people after all our suffering?

The Crown’s period of inactivity, silence and retreat is over.

The Crown wishes to offer no empty gestures. Henceforth, we work only toward meaningful actions, under which the Crown begins again to offer protection and inspiration and hope to our people. What the Crown can offer right now is this:

Firstly, it can offer an impartial symbol of national unity to all Ethiopians. The Crown is not the crown of only one or two groups of Ethiopians. Although the Crown has long and traditional ties with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it is nonetheless the Crown of Ethiopians of all religions, favoring none above another, nor one ethnic or national or linguistic group above another;

Secondly, the Crown confers legitimacy, national dignity and respect. The actions of Emperors Menelik and Haile-Selassie brought international attention and acclaim to our nation in the most positive way. The actions of Mengistu and others like him brought our international reputation into distaste, and the perception of our leaders into the perspective of being self-serving, power-hungry tyrants. We should remember that because of the actions of Emperors Menelik and Haile-Selassie, Ethiopia represents the best of all African aspirations because of the major role she played in liberating Africa, in supporting Pan-Africanism and in providing a significant symbolic history for the liberation of black people from subjugation.

In addition, it is my hope that the Crown can provide a source of protection to Ethiopian refugees who have been scattered around the world in a diaspora unprecedented in our history.

Thirdly, we wish to offer Ethiopians within our country the fact that the Crown, which first introduced our society to modern advances during Emperors Menelik and Haile-Selassie eras, continues to evolve with the times. And in this context we want to provide an umbrella under which true multi-party democracy can function, with the Crown acting as the symbolic and effective guarantor of the Constitution of the people’s choice. The Crown must be above day-to-day politics, and must offer the long-term leadership which establishes the framework of society, the freedom for people to accord each other respect and cooperation, and therefore progress. The Crown must ensure that the forces of law and order are not subject to political misuse.

I would like to conclude my remarks by stating that Ethiopia’s current rulers had a tremendous opportunity to bring an era of reconciliation and progress to our nation. They have squandered this gift. The result is that our country has yet to embark on discovering its potential, both economically and as a bulwark for the world’s civilized strategic interests. Ethiopia could become the region’s breadbasket, be peaceful rather than lurching toward violence, become a regional stabilizer and be an example of the benefits of upholding the people’s interests through democracy and respect for human rights.

The Crown has stood the test of time.

Ethiopia should keep what has worked before, but innovate to keep up with the times, combining the best of the old and the new. By this I especially mean that the Crown can serve as the nation’s guarantor of democracy and human rights, enhancing the country’s ability to meet not only its own economic, social, and spiritual challenges but, by strengthening the social fabric, render Ethiopia stronger and better-prepared to defend its sovereignty, and play its share in the international battle against radicalism, chaos, instability and poverty. Of course, the world today being a smaller, more interdependent place, Ethiopia’s democrats need to work in close cooperation with our foreign friends and hope that we can count on your continued support and interest.

I would like to close with one important message: The Ethiopian Crown, in the institution of the Council or in my own personal capacity, offers itself at this critical stage as an arbiter between Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Ethiopian Crown is the property of all Ethiopians and, for that matter, all Eritreans. We have a 3,000-year-long history with the territory which is now independent as Eritrea, as well as with the heartland which is now a separate Ethiopia. That the peoples choose their own separate identities is their own affair. But the Crown is there to serve the cause of peace and reconciliation. I am available immediately to do whatever is necessary to help mediate an end to the dispute between both leaders in this current conflict. Because the peoples of neither territory wish this conflict to continue.

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Presented to the Ethiopian National Congress by HIH Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie, President of the Crown Council of Ethiopia, May 24, 1998

The Current Role of the Monarchy in Preserving Ethiopia’s Unity

True leadership is all about the inspiration of people to see the vision of what greatness is possible within them and within their own broad communities, and then in causing the energies, talents and willpower of those people to be focused toward achieving that greatness. Today, there are those who call themselves leaders merely because they are at the helm of a ship of state, going where the great masses take them. They find consensus in the whims of spontaneous political combustion; they do not create consensus through the presentation of a well-conceived vision, which embraces wisdom, planning and the demonstration of justice.

You have asked me here today to talk about the role of the Monarchy in preserving Ethiopia’s unity. And I represent a monarchical line which stretches back for 3,000 years, longer than any other ruling line or structure in history. But I am not here to bask in history, although I must refer to it for lessons which we may not, must not, forget. I am here to plead for the future of Ethiopia; to tell you that the future can be restored to the people of Ethiopia as Ethiopians as well as Tigreans, Oromo, Amhara, Guraghe, and so on. Each time Ethiopia has prospered domestically and internationally it has been because the country has been led by inspired men who placed the good of their people above their own needs. It can be so again.

Today, many politicians are adept in securing the appearance of consensus for their policies, through tactics of distraction, deception, and by creating doubts and divisions between peoples. It is no coincidence that, because of the demands of modern media, politics today is very much akin to the profession of traveling conjurer. For many politicians, it is believed that there is no time to consider the broad and long-term public good when publics clamor for immediate and easy solutions. To survive, politicians pander to the public’s demand rather than its needs; feeding people a diet of blame, hatred, suspicion; in a word: distraction. The problems, they say, are all the fault of their predecessors, our neighbors, “the great Satan”: anybody else. It is no wonder that we are, in Ethiopia as well as the rest of the world, growing into a society which forgets the happiness and pride of working toward the goal of common good and historic values, and instead believes that each man must grab what little profit and relief he can before someone else will steal it.

Under such circumstances, can any member of society be expected to go out of his way to help his neighbor? Can any individual be expected, ultimately, to put his family (in the broadest interpretation of the word) ahead of himself; or to see himself as a functioning and important part of a society which embraces differences in ethnicity, language, religion, and yet which still strives toward a common goal?

Today, in Ethiopia, we see a policy being implemented by those in control of the administrative apparatus of the country, of “divide and rule”. Pride in Ethiopianness is discouraged; the Empire is nothing but a collection of self-interested small states working without regard to their neighbors. Amharas are no longer expected to look out for the interests of the Oromo; the Oromo are not expected to care about the fate of the Tigreans; the Gojjam are no longer expected to care about the fate of their onetime brothers in Wollo; the Kaffa must forget the Sidamo. And so on.

Why is this? Is this “progress” disguised as “self-determination”? In a world increasingly dominated by global languages, global economic trends, and seamlessly integrated communications, can we expect that the life of a Guraghe-speaking child will be better because someone said: “Your own language is the source of all pride, and all attempts at working with your kinsmen across a nearby border are worthless”? Of course not.

Why is this happening? I will tell you. It is because politicians wish to retain power regardless of the fact that they cannot inspire the many and richly-varied people of the great Ethiopian empire to support a common dream. These politicians represent a fraction of six percent of the population of Ethiopia. They did not come to power in the name of Ethiopia; they came to power in the name of Tigré. And I do not disparage their belief that Tigré has rights; that Tigré is something special in Ethiopia. But I do not agree that in order for a Tigréan group to govern Ethiopia they must do so by merely dividing the country so that their minority rule cannot be challenged. This is not leadership. This is the belief that if a big picture is good, then we would all be better off cutting that big picture into little pieces and each scuttling off to our respective corners with a small piece of paint on canvas, wondering eventually what it meant.

Let me harken to our history, for history is the one thing which a 3,000-year-old Ethiopian monarchy knows well. The Monarchy has learned from history. And we would all do well to continue to learn from history, so as to avoid repetition of its mistakes, and to see that we, the monarchy, like all institutions, must adapt to reflect the societies we represent.

The Age of the Princes — Zemene Mesafint — from 1780 to 1855 saw Ethiopia agonize through an era when our respective states struggled along, warring with each other, without the benefit of cooperation, without the benefit of a united front to present to the world; indeed, without the ability to even interact with the outside world. There was little or no progress. If there was no great challenge, apart from the constant fear of attack, there was also no universal uplifting of hope, no rising economic wellbeing. And Ethiopia slept while the world prospered and grew. We had retrogressed from the glory of the Axumite period, to the point where we were little better off than Dinqinesh, who walked with her fellows in the Rift Valley some three-million years ago.

It was Emperor Tewodoros II — Theodore II — who again embraced the concept of national unity within the context of the Empire. Tewoderos ultimately moved to his disastrous confrontation with Britain, and culminating with his — and Ethiopia’s — defeat at the Battle of Magdàla on April 13, 1868.

Tewoderos’ reign, which had been imposed by arbitrary, brutal and in many ways divisive policies, was at least a step toward reviving the consensus that Ethiopia was and would always be a structure which embraced the various states within an Empire, however unfashionable that word is today. [As an aside, it is worth mentioning that under this same definition, the United States is also an Empire of component states.] But Tewoderos’ reign was followed by a four-year interregnum and reversion to internecine warfare with states each seeking their own fortunes. Ethiopia, in such a fractured state, was ripe for foreign exploitation, in many ways as it is today: weak, divided, and grasping for the currency of survival, which is being meted out on the terms of the outside world.

It is no wonder that in the early 1870s, the European powers were already considering that Ethiopia was a no-man’s land, ready for conquest. And it was this situation, this vacuum, which led to the Treaty of Berlin a short time later granting Italy the “right” to annex Ethiopia. But that was after a period of weakness had already allowed Italy to make incursions into Eritrea, on its own terms, and had allowed Sudan’s Mahdist leadership to believe that war could successfully be waged against the new Emperor of Ethiopia, Johannes IV.

You are all familiar with this history, and how Emperor Johannes came to power after the nation had descended once again into internecine warfare. He inherited a state which was, and increasingly became, beset by outside forces who rightly perceived the fact that this small collection of dis-united states had no ability to act in their common good. Johannes was unable to inspire a sense of Ethiopian unity, and Ethiopia was unready for the war against Mahdist Sudan. Ultimate attempts to switch from support for the British against Sudan to create a common Sudan-Ethiopia front against the Europeans were spurned by the Mahdists in 1888, and by 1889, the Mahdists had killed Yohannes in battle; the last crowned head of a major state to die in combat.

But his death and life had been an attempt to overcome a legacy of disunity; and the goal of Ethiopian unity as the only means of protecting the lifestyles of Ethiopia’s people was now clearly established. It took Menelik, by now Negus of Shoa, to come to the Imperial Throne with the ability to create unity, and thereby create wealth: enough wealth for the country to withstand foreign pressures; enough wealth to start the process of real evolutionary societal and economic progress and wellbeing.

So I ask you today: Can Ethiopia survive as a single nation-state if it lacks a leadership which will inspire unity? And even if Ethiopia in the absence of unifying leadership is fortunate enough to escape the physical depredations of further secession or irridentist actions or invasion, can it in any event prosper? Will freedom be served? Will the interests of the people be served? And will we as a people, historically given the gift of a union and a special identity for millennia, fail in our destiny? Will we fail our children and our children’s children?

What, then, can the Crown of Ethiopia now do for its people after all of our suffering?

The Crown’s period of inactivity is over.

The Crown’s period of silence and retreat is over.

My Uncle, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Amha Selassie, is dead, but he carried the Crown and kept it alive in the dreadful years after the death of his father and my grandfather, Emperor Haile Selassie, of blessed memory. But Emperor Amha Selassie was ill even before the coup which overthrew Emperor Haile Selassie. He remained in poor health until the end of his life, and had little in the way of resources and physical capability to lead the counter-attack against those who have destroyed much of our country.

The Crown wishes to offer no empty gestures. Henceforth, we work only toward meaningful actions, under which the Crown begins again to offer protection and inspiration and hope to our people. What the Crown can offer right now is this:

Firstly, it can offer an impartial symbol of national unity to all Ethiopians. The Crown is not the crown of only one or two groups of Ethiopians. Although the Crown has long and traditional ties with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, it is nonetheless the Crown of Ethiopians of all religions, favoring none above another, nor one ethnic or national or linguistic group above another;

Secondly, the Crown offers the symbol of national dignity and respect. The actions of Emperors Menelik and Haile Selassie brought international attention and acclaim to our nation in a most positive way. The actions of Mengistu and others like him brought our international reputation into distaste, and the perception of our leaders into the perspective of being self-serving, power-hungry tyrants. We should remember that because of the actions of Menelik and Haile Selassie, Ethiopia represents the best of all African aspirations. Today, although only acting as President of the Crown Council, and a Crown Council in exile at that, I have been humbled and honored to have been received warmly by more than a dozen heads of state and heads of government over the past year, since my Uncle’s death. These leaders have expressed the hope that the Ethiopian Crown remains a symbol for all Africans and those of African descent.

It is my hope that the Crown can provide a source of protection to Ethiopian refugees who have been scattered around the world in a diaspora unprecedented in our history. We have already secured attention and help for Ethiopian refugees in some African countries based on the fact that the Crown’s representative has had access to and influence with the leaders of these host countries.

Thirdly, we wish to offer Ethiopians within our country the fact that the Crown, which first introduced our society to modern advances during the Menelik and Haile Selassie eras, continues to evolve with the times. And in this context we want to provide an umbrella under which true multi-party democracy can function, with the Crown acting as the symbolic and effective guarantor of the Constitution of the people’s choice. The Crown must be above day-to-day politics, and must offer the long-term leadership which establishes the framework of society, the freedom for peoples to accord each other respect and cooperation, and therefore progress. The Crown must ensure that the forces of law and order are not subject to political mis-use.

Stalin who, unchecked, butchered 60-million of his own people and left his country open to invasion by another monster, Adolf Hitler, once asked, when cautioned about the power of the Church: “How many divisions does the Pope have?”

Today, it can be asked: “How many divisions are in the Army of the Crown?”

The Crown is Ethiopia, and its divisions, therefore, are all the people of Ethiopia. But these legions do not serve the interests of the Crown. The interests of the Crown are the people of Ethiopia.

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Remarks By His Imperial Highness Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile-Selassie in Response to the International Strategic Studies Association “Award for Outstanding Contributions to Strategic Progress For Services to Humanity”, Washington DC, September 23, 1997.

The ISSA Award Acceptance Speech

Mr President, your Royal Highnesses, Right Honourable and Honorable Guests, Your Excellencies, and Distinguished Guests, it is a wonderful tribute to the Ethiopian people that the International Strategic Studies Association has tonight recognized their efforts throughout the world to overcome the difficulties imposed upon them by decades of civil war. And although the Association has chosen to make this presentation to me, I know that I am merely symbolic of the determination of all the peoples and clans of Ethiopia to rebuild the wellbeing of our nation.

We as a people have suffered terrible privations over the past few decades. Many of us, in order to preserve institutions and our way of life, and even in order to preserve the lives of our families, were dispersed into a diaspora around the world. And today, the Ethiopians of this diaspora, scattered throughout Europe, Africa, the Americas, Australasia, and elsewhere, have begun to come together once again to help rebuild their country and to assist Ethiopians who were able to remain in our country.

I thank the International Strategic Studies Association for the honour of this Award, but I accept it on behalf of the many thousands, tens of thousands, of Ethiopians around the world who have, from nothing, built worthwhile lives and professional careers in new lands, and who have now committed themselves to helping their less-fortunate countrymen. We are a proud people, who have resisted foreign domination, and who have maintained the longest continuous chain of government the world has ever known. My own family has, as Gregory Copley noted in his generous introduction, served Ethiopia for 228 generations. But then, so have the families of the Ethiopians who today, around the world, have begun to regroup and stand up for the unity and wellbeing of their homeland.

We have suffered mightily, but we are not poor in spirit. The peoples of every Ethiopian nation — Oromo, Amhara, Tigrean and others —constitute a rich mosaic of cultures in a land steeped in history, and religious and cultural tolerance. My own focus, these recent years, has been to provide to all Ethiopians a reminder that their economic and social success as a federation of nations has come from their willingness to consent to a union and a common cause. My function has not been to seek charity for the Ethiopian people, but rather to help reassert the ability of Ethiopians, where-ever they may be, to rebuild the greatness of the country.

There is an irony in the fact that the diaspora of Ethiopians, caused by the genocidal actions of the unlamented communist Dergue which for a while seized control of our country, has led to a class of Ethiopians who have learned the languages of new countries, and have become educated professionals and skilled workers in new lands. This has created a base of relative wealth, skills and sophistication which will give Ethiopia an unprecedented advantage in moving into the next Century.

My task is to help ensure that the conditions exist for them to be able to go home to a society which will welcome the contributions which they bring back from exile. And that there exists within Ethiopia a society which, in the wake of the hatreds and cruelty stirred up by the Dergue and the civil war which they brought down upon us, is still capable of a proud partnership of the various cultures, traditions, religions and languages which built our land over the past 3,000 years.

There is an understandable nervousness within the Administration governing Ethiopia today, particularly with regard to the return of an emigré and refugee communities which has been exposed to a wide range of foreign influences. There is also a feeling among some Ethiopians that it is a time to settle scores, and to isolate the various peoples — the Oromos, Amhara, Tigreans — from each other. This move toward an Ethiopian apartheid is being tolerated by many in the United States, who should be vocal against the trend. And this division of the country, particularly the suggestion that the Oromo peoples should secede from Ethiopia, is being actively encouraged by some foreign governments, particularly the German Government. As an Ethiopian with Oromo, Amhara and Tigrean ancenstry, I find this as lamentable as the suggestion that Westphalia should secede from Germany, or Texas from the United States.

So, in thanking the Association tonight for this Award, I hope that I have been able to draw attention to the fact that Ethiopia and Ethiopians have the ability to rebuild our great nation, and to the fact that there are divisions which are being allowed to occur in our country because the world is either silent or is actively encouraging them. I urge you to learn what you can of my beautiful and friendly country so that you may be an advocate for her unity and reconstruction, and that she might resume her place as the pride of Africa and a symbol that Africa is a continent of hope and promise.

Thank you.

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