In an exclusive interview with the Diaspora-based independent Ethiopian media “Ethiopia First” (EF), Prime Minister Meles Zenawi says Ethiopia would have broken apart like Yugoslavia if the people did not value Ethiopianness (Ethiopiawinet) enough to keep the country together. However, Meles claimed Ethiopian unity is deep and firmly established, particularly as its people value its economic potential and stronger national security that comes with having a large population and land. But Meles warned that if Ethiopia can not accommodate and celebrate religious, ethnic and national diversity, its source of strength will be gone.
EF’s editor, whose father is Oromo, said the current government’s policy is promoting negative ethnic awareness but Meles said diversity is Ethiopia’s source of strength and Ethiopianness should not require abandoning Oromo or other identity and it was built based on common national interests.
He gave these answers in response to questions on whether his party’s ethnic federalism policy is putting the unity and survival of Ethiopia in danger.
Questioned about the millions of Ethiopians who need food aid this year and why the country failed to achieve self-sufficiency, Meles said Ethiopia has proportionally performed much better because its population has more than doubled since the 1984 famine, which he asserted was equivalent to adding the population of large African countries like Kenya and Tanzania.
- Watch Full Interview: Part One