| Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Summary of the official visit of HRH Crown Prince Haakon and HRH Crown Princess Mette-Marit to Ethiopia

TRH press brief at African Union
Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit meets the press following Crown Prince Haakon's address to the PRC of the African Union

Their Royal Highnesses (TRH) Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway travelled to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia for an official state visit from 7-9 November 2017. The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Addis Ababa extends its warmest gratitude to the Government of Ethiopia, and indeed all Ethiopians, for the warm welcome afforded to the Royal Couple.

Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s hectic schedule enabled them to meet with dignitaries as well as a range of stakeholders both in and outside of Addis Ababa; a short overview of some of these events follows below. Links to the speeches held by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess during their visit to Ethiopia are provided at the bottom of this article.

 

Day 1:

TRH were welcomed to Ethiopia by H.E. President Mulatu Teshome and Ms Meaza Abraham outside the Presidential Palace on the morning of the first day of their official visit to the country. The national anthem of both countries was played, after which the Crown Prince and the President inspected the Military Guard of Honour.

The initial greeting was followed by a bilateral meeting between the Norwegian official delegation and their Ethiopian counterparts. As Ethiopia is an increasingly important partner for Norway, there was a lot to discuss. On the agenda were issues of mutual interest such as peace and security, climate change, education, job creation and sustainable development, to name but a few. Norway and Ethiopia have a strong, mutual interest in promoting a UN-led global world order. After the bilateral meeting, Crown Prince Haakon and President Mulatu presided over the signing of a mining agreement between Yara and Ethiopian authorities.

During the first day of their official visit to Ethiopia, the Royal Couple also met with UN representatives, who informed them of their programmes in Ethiopia, as well as the ongoing humanitarian situation. After the lunch with UN representatives, Crown Princess Mette-Marit gave a speech at the Plenary Opening of the Ethio-Norwegian business seminar. More than 50 representatives from Norwegian businesses were in attendance, signifying the growing importance of Ethiopia to Norwegian businesses, and to trade and investment between the two countries.

In the afternoon, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit visited the headquarters of the African Union. Following a courtesy call with the Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, HRH Crown Prince Haakon addressed the Permanent Representatives’ Committee of the AU.

The speech highlighted the strong and good historical ties between Africa and Norway, including Norway’s support to the liberation struggle, development cooperation and trade. The speech also mentioned Norway’s strategic partnership with the AU, and the importance of Norwegian collaboration with the AU and the African continent on issues of mutual interest. Crown Prince Haakon also paid attention to the importance of the AU as a global actor, particularly on issues linked to achieving sustainable development and prosperity for all.

In the evening, Their Royal Highnesses returned to the Presidential Palace to attend a state banquet in their honour; President Mulatu and his wife, Ms Meaza Abraham, joined them. The banquet, with its great atmosphere and delicious food, was a perfect example of Ethiopian hospitality.

 

Day 2:

The agenda for the second day of Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit’s official visit to Ethiopia focused on climate change, cooperation in the fields of health and science, human rights, as well as the activities of Norwegian Civil Society Organisations engaged in Ethiopia.

The day began with a visit to the Conference on Health, Science and Higher Education at ALERT Hospital, where the Crown Princess held an opening address. The conference tackled issues such as the importance of adequate vaccine programmes, as well as cooperation on combating epidemic diseases. The Crown Princess emphasised the importance of a good health-care system for the prosperity of all nations, and pointed to the long-standing cooperation between Norwegian and Ethiopian healthcare practitioners.

Norway provides support to the efforts of the Ethiopian government to promote sustainable, climate-smart agriculture. In order to highlight Ethio-Norwegian cooperation in this area, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit visited one of the sites of the Sustainable Land Management Program in Ejere. This program aims to improve soil quality by reducing acidification and erosion. During their visit to Ejere, the Royal Couple attended a traditional coffee ceremony and met with local beneficiaries.

In the afternoon, the Royal Couple visited the Norwegian Lutheran Mission to speak to Norwegian Civil Society Organisations operating in Ethiopia. The visit was of some historical significance, as the late King Olav – Crown Prince Haakon’s grandfather – had visited the same mission in 1966.

Later that evening the Royal Couple attended a reception at the residence of H.E. Andreas Gaarder, Ambassador for Norway to Ethiopia. Their Royal Highnesses were treated to a cultural performance, and met with many important contacts from the business and diplomatic communities.

 

Day 3:

Ethiopia, with its “open door” policy, plays host to more than 880 000 registered refugees, an amount that is second only to Uganda in Africa. On the final day of their official visit to Ethiopia, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit visited Hitsats Refugee Camp in the Shire region of Ethiopia to learn more about Norway’s support to education for refugee children.

Roughly 2 000 refugees journey from Eritrea to Ethiopia every month. Most arrive alone, and 75 percent are under the age of 25.

Through their visit of to the Hitsats Refugee Camp, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit gained greater insight into the human story behind the numbers, and about the reasons why Eritrean refugees make the difficult decision to embark on such a perilous journey.

Providing refugees – such as those living in the Hitsats Refugee Camp – with access to education and vocational training allows them to lead more sustainable, independent lives. It is critical that the right of children and young persons to education is safeguarded, as it is a long-term investment in their future.

The Government of Ethiopia introduced a new refugee policy in 2016 aimed at furthering the integration of refugees into the Ethiopian society through enhanced access to welfare services and employment opportunities. Norway supports these policies.

 

Links to speeches held by Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit:

Statement to the press by Crown Prince Haakon following meeting with President Mulatu: http://www.royalcourt.no/tale.html?tid=159129&sek=28409&scope=27248

Speech by Crown Princess Mette-Marit at opening of business seminar: http://www.royalcourt.no/tale.html?tid=159138&sek=28409&scope=27248

Address to the PRC of the African Union by Crown Prince Haakon: http://www.royalcourt.no/tale.html?tid=159139&sek=28409&scope=27248

Speech by Crown Prince Haakon during State Banquet: http://www.royalcourt.no/tale.html?tid=159147&sek=28409&scope=27248

Speech by Crown Princess Mette-Marit during Conference on Health, Science and Higher Education: https://www.royalcourt.no/tale.html?tid=159171&sek=28409&scope=27248

Speech by Crown Prince Haakon during reception at the Norwegian Ambassador’s residence: https://www.royalcourt.no/tale.html?tid=159179&sek=28409&scope=27248