German President Joachim Gauck Arrives on a 4 Day Official Visit to Ethiopia
March 19, 2013
German President Joachim Gauck has begun a four-day official tour to Ethiopia. He is expected to meet Ethiopian leaders, civil society representatives and address the African Union.
President Gauck, who arrived in Addis Ababa on Sunday, met the Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Desalegn for dinner shortly after his arrival and was expected to meet his Ethiopian counterpart Girma Wolde-Giorgis on Monday.
The German head of state will also hold talks with members of Ethiopian civil society giving him plenty of opportunity to discuss freedom and individual liberty, a topic which the former Protestant pastor often raises at home.
Ethiopian and German human rights groups, including PEN Center Germany, have sent open letters to President Gauck calling on him to press for the release of political prisoners and journalists in Ethiopia.
Since 2006 Berlin has supplied 170 million euros ($220 million) in funding for AU development projects. They include support for the development of African peace and security architecture, for the planned AU Pan-African University and for the Pan-African agricultural program.
Gauck praised the progress that was being made towards democracy in Africa. “It fills me with enthusiasm that democracy in Africa is growing like this,” he said. But he also said there was a darker side to the continent. Africa suffered from terrible wars and civil wars, the president said. “To deliberately abuse children by forcing them to kill is a particularly gruesome violation of human rights,” he added.