David J. Kramer: Human Rights and Governance in Ethiopia

November 20, 2008

ASSISTANT SECRETARY KRAMER: Thank you very much for the introduction and thanks for inviting me to join you here today and to be with such a great panel. I do regret I’m just back from South Korea this weekend, so I won’t be able to stay to hear the panel. But colleagues from the Department – Jeff Krilla, Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, is here and certainly an expert on Africa, and there may be other colleagues here from State who can certainly address any questions or issues that might come up during the discussion. But it is a real pleasure for me to be here. I actually worked at CSIS – I won’t say how many years ago, but quite a long time ago, and it’s always a pleasure to come back here.

It’s a pleasure for me to join you here today to talk about Ethiopia, the human rights situation there. I have paid two visits to Ethiopia in my time as the Assistant Secretary in DRL, as it’s called. I started the job at the end of March, and I was in Addis in late July, and then I just returned, as he said, in October.

And the reason I paid two visits to Ethiopia, and it has so far been the only country I’ve made a return visit to, is out of recognition of the importance Ethiopia represents for the United States. It is a key strategic partner with the U.S. in the war on terrorism. It’s a key player in what is obviously a rather difficult region, in the Horn of Africa. And I went out of respect and recognition for the importance we attach to the relationship with all of Ethiopia, with the government, with opposition, with civil society, with journalists with whom I met. — more from the source–