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Landlocked Ethiopia Charts a Course for a Navy

Mar 18, 2019 | 09:30 GMT
French President Emmanuel Macron gestures during a news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Paris on Oct. 29, 2018.

French President Emmanuel Macron gestures during a news conference with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Paris on Oct. 29, 2018. Landlocked Ethiopia is aiming to cement its status as a regional heavyweight by establishing a navy.

(MICHEL EULER/AFP/Getty Images)

Twenty-eight years after it lost its coast, Ethiopia is plotting a course to the sea once more. During French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Addis Ababa on March 12, the two countries signed a defense cooperation agreement to develop a future Ethiopian navy -- the culmination of months of reports that Ethiopian and French officials were discussing closer ties on maritime affairs. Ethiopia may be the Horn of Africa's heavyweight -- thanks in part to its growing economy and a population of over 100 million -- but it has chafed at its lack of sea access. Indeed, after coastal Eritrea won its independence from Ethiopia following a 30-year war, Addis Ababa shuttered the country's navy. Since then, Ethiopia has had little reason to reconsider its decision, but times are changing. After Eritrea and Ethiopia concluded a peace agreement to end their years of animosity, regional dynamics are shifting in Addis Ababa's...

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