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Minister Costello to attend funeral of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in Addis Ababa

Diplomatic Relations, Press Releases, Africa, 2012

The Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., will travel to Ethiopia this weekend to attend the funeral of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, which takes place on Sunday.

Ireland established its bilateral assistance programme in Ethiopia in 1994 and since that time has been working with the Government of Ethiopia and a range of UN agencies and NGOs in an effort to support the country's development.

Over the past two decades and under the leadership of PM Meles Zenawi, the country has seen remarkable strides in development. Public spending on basic social services has increased significantly, and use of such services has risen.  Primary school enrolments have quadrupled, child mortality has been halved, and the number of people with access to clean water has more than doubled.  The proportion of people living on less than a $1 a day has decreased to less than 30% compared to 46% in 2000.  Ethiopia has been one of the fastest growing economies in Africa in recent years with growth averaging 8-10 percent annually. 

Ireland’s partnership with Ethiopia has contributed to this remarkable progress over recent years, with a focus on long-term, sustainable results.

Minister Costello said:

"I was saddened to hear of the death of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

The strong bilateral relations between our two countries over the past twenty years has informed our understanding of the development progress made under his leadership and allowed for frequent robust exchanges of issues and ideas between our Governments on areas of particular importance such as poverty reduction, human rights and governance. 

In addition to his commitment to eliminating poverty within Ethiopia, the Prime Minister also worked tirelessly for peace and security in Africa, and he was a pioneer for Africa on issues relating to Climate Change. On behalf of the people of Ireland I offer my sincere condolences to his family and to the people of Ethiopia on their loss.” 

Minister Costello last visited Ethiopia in January 2012 when he attended an African Union Summit and met with Ministers from a number of African States to further develop relations between Ireland and Africa and to lobby for Ireland’s candidacy to the United Nations Human Rights council.

He also visited Irish Aid supported programmes in the field such as the Productive Safety Nets Programme (PSNP) - a large scale innovative intervention that provides cash or food in return for vital environmental works which improve agricultural productivity. The PSNP was the first and remains the largest safety-net programme of its kind in Africa and  is instrumental in protecting the lives of over 7.5 million people, who otherwise would be at risk of hunger.

Minister Costello's visit to Ethiopia on Sunday is to convey respects to the late Prime Minister and to underscore Ireland's continuing  support for Ethiopia as the country continues to work towards poverty reduction.