The European Commission are reportedly in close communication with authorities amid an ongoing row between the Ethiopian government and the ethnic Greek community in the country. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


EC steps into Ethiopia-Greece school row


The European Commission is reportedly in close communication with authorities amid an ongoing row between the Ethiopian Government in Addis Ababa and the ethnic Greek community in the country.

Ethiopia is accused of illegally seizing a prominent school set up by the country’s ethnic minority Greek community, with the establishment having since become one of Ethiopia’s largest educational institutions.

Writing to the EC, Greek MEP Manolis Kefalogiannis described the actions of the Ethiopian Government as “deplorable” before demanding to know what steps Brussels is taking to help combat the taking over of the school.

Responding to the question, European Union foreign affairs bigwig Josep Borrell thanked Kefalogiannis for raising the issue before confirming that the EC was working with Greek authorities regarding the seizure.

“The EU Delegation in Addis Ababa is in close contact with the Greek Embassy regarding this issue and has offered its services and support to outreach the government of Ethiopia,” he said, adding that the European External Action Service, its diplomatic arm, was also working on the issue.

Borrell added that the EC hopes a “suitable solution for the Greek community of Ethiopia can be found”, insisting that the EU would “continue to monitor the situation very closely”.

The situation in Addis Ababa is just one of many issues facing the EU in Africa in recent months, with European powers struggling to keep up with challenges on continent.

Apart from the ongoing coups in Niger and Gabon – both of which were formerly within the so-called “Françafrique” sphere of influence of France over former French and Belgian colonies in sub-Saharan Africa – the bloc has also battled to deal with the continued influence of Islamism.

Speaking on behalf of the EC recently, Borrell condemned an Islamist-linked attack on a school in Uganda in June.

“The EU was shocked by the appalling attack on the school in Western Uganda,” he said, adding that the bloc was now “deeply concerned” regarding the what it said was the deteriorating security situation in the region.

Borrell said that the EU was nonetheless backing numerous projects in the area aimed at improving stability.

The effectiveness of such projects has been questioned in recent weeks, with Brussels being criticised for having previously agreed to train Niger’s military, which went on to launch a coup against its own democratically elected government.