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SWEDES PARDONED IN ETHIOPIA
'I knew in spring they’d be released': Bildt

'I knew in spring they’d be released': Bildt

Published: 11 Sep 2012 12:32 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Sep 2012 12:32 GMT+02:00

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt revealed in his personal blog on Tuesday that he knew as early as May that the two Swedish reporters jailed in Ethiopia would be released.

“An hour long meeting resulted in the Prime Minister [of Ethiopia] stating clearly that there would be a pardon, but that they’d be freed at a point in time when it could be seen as a part of the bigger picture,” wrote Bildt in his blog called “Alla dessa dagar”.

For the first time since the two reporters were jailed for crossing the border from Somalia illegally, Bildt feels able to give his version of events. Both Bildt and the government has been criticised for their silence on the subject up until now.

The meeting with the then Ethiopian premier Meles Zenawi took place in Addis Ababa in May this year, when Bildt was visiting the country for other reasons undisclosed.

The minister had met a few times with Zenawi by then, the most recent meeting taking place in a London hotel together with Fredrik Reinfeldt, who also knew Zenawi from a close cooperation on climate issues in Copenhagen.

“The time mentioned was the first days of September. I, of course, tried to make it earlier, but the prime minister was fairly adamant that a release could not happen earlier,” Bildt wrote.

According to Bildt, he then went to the prison, met with Schibbye and Persson and told them the news of their planned release.

However, when Bildt received the news that Prime Minister Zenawi had unexpectedly died in August, he travelled down to Addis Ababa to attend the formal funeral.

“One couldn't ignore the risk that their release would be delayed," Bildt wrote.

“I was then able to have a short conversation with the acting Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who quite obviously valued my presence there.”

However, it wasn’t until Saturday September 8th that Bildt was told by ambassador Jens Odlander that the embassy had received official word that the government would stand by the agreement reached.

“After ambassador Odlander’s call, Fredrik Reinfeldt on Sunday spoke to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who confirmed that they would be released within the next few days,” Bildt wrote.

Bildt also wrote that a successively established cooperation with Ethiopia was crucial in the pardoning process and that Sweden has been helped both by the support of other nations, the diligent work conducted by the foreign ministry staff and the embassy staff in Addis Ababa, as well as the staunch faith and understanding of the two jailed journalists’ families,

Schibbye and Persson were freed on Monday and have left Ethiopia to recuperate at an undisclosed location before they return to Sweden.

They were arrested last year with rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) after illegally entering Ethiopia from Somalia.

The Swedes were in the remote southeastern region of Ogaden, populated mainly by ethnic Somalis, to investigate the activities of a company affiliated with the Swedish oil firm Lundin Petroleum.

Bildt was a board member of Lundin from 2000 until 2006, when he was appointed foreign minister.

Schibbye and Persson were probing reports of human rights abuses committed by the Ethiopian military to protect the foreign oil operations – including Lundin's -- in their war against the ONLF rebels.

The Local/AFP (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:16 September 11, 2012 by RobinHood
This affair is going to cost Swedish tax payers a great deal of "international aid", paid to their Ethiopian friends by Mr Bildt.

How much of that "aid" finds its way into the Swiss bank accounts of senior Ethiopian politicians, and their families, remains to be seen. A sum ranging between most of it, to all of it, would be par for the course.
13:58 September 11, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

@RobinHood. You are right. Read the following:I

Source: Swedish International Development

Cooperation Agency

Page and Volvo mechanic training in Ethiopia

Published: July 13, 2012

Updated: July 13, 2012

In a joint project with Volvo Construction Equipment start page an advanced training for mechanics in Addis Ababa. Until 2017 betting Page 16 million in the project, which aims to increase the number of trained technicians in sub-Saharan Africa.

Additional 50 million to save lives in Ethiopia

Published: August 12, 2011

Updated: August 12, 2011

Sida has decided to provide an additional 50 million to the effort to save lives and alleviate suffering in Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa. - Of that 40 million to a fund that can quickly step in with resources when needed and where needed. 10 million UNICEF will use to include saving 200,000 malnourished children and investigate 600,000 pregnant and lactating women, says Elizabeth Narrowe, administrator of Sida's humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa.
14:47 September 11, 2012 by B Slick
AND how much did it cost the tax-payer to have them released?? Carl Bildt says nothing about that! Now a bunch of politicions in ethiopia are sitting around smoking cigars splitting up the cash that sweden has sent then, and that tax free cash. Thats what i call easy money.
16:12 September 11, 2012 by FutureHuman
I agree with you guys that they shouldn't have received the kind of care from the Swedish government or other 'free- speech' groups. But still I don't see the connection with aid, and I think your perception of how aid is spent in Ethiopia is not fact-based and close to racist. You might need to check the facts. Ethiopia is one of the least corrupt countries in the world, and one of the few countries that use aid very efficiently. It goes to building schools, clinics, infrustrcuture and enhancing one of the most ambitous social security programs in the developing world. In deed, Ethiopia is now the the fastest growing non-oil producing country in Africa one of the fast growing economies in the world for the past decade.

Fight your temptation to use streotypes. They are damaging.
18:14 September 11, 2012 by Frank_W
Comment 4 got it right.

Volvo mechanic training thing was agreed before these guys got arrested - and agreement is with a Foundation that has nothing to do with government.

The pregnant women/malnourished children thing has been going on a lot longer also... the emergency resource thing was a response to the Somalian famine which Ethiopia had to deal with. No aid trade off was agreed with Sweden over these journalists at all.

I work a lot in Ethiopia and frankly find it less corrupt than many western countries I have worked in. I know also Ethiopians have little respect for Lundin and not much for Bildt - there was "aid" pressure from Sweden over the Ogaden oil thing and Ethiopians know well Bildt got rich from that association. They still though remember a century or so of Swedish missions building schools and clinics and asking nothing in return - that they still respect and that is what our pair scored the benefit of.

He knew in spring they would be released? big deal - so did I - too bad he has to grandstand over something he had little or no influence over...

Swiss bank accounts? any Ethiopian politician trying that would be in jail faster than a Swedish journalist trying something as stupid as this pair.
18:22 September 11, 2012 by themoron
If you do not see the link between the journalists release and the subsidies granted by SIDA, what can we expect?

Source: Swedish International Development

Cooperation Agency

Page and Volvo mechanic training in Ethiopia

Published: July 13, 2012

Updated: July 13, 2012

In a joint project with Volvo Construction Equipment start page an advanced training for mechanics in Addis Ababa. Until 2017 betting Page 16 million in the project, which aims to increase the number of trained technicians in sub-Saharan Africa.

Additional 50 million to save lives in Ethiopia

Published: August 12, 2011

Updated: August 12, 2011

Sida has decided to provide an additional 50 million to the effort to save lives and alleviate suffering in Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa. - Of that 40 million to a fund that can quickly step in with resources when needed and where needed. 10 million UNICEF will use to include saving 200,000 malnourished children and investigate 600,000 pregnant and lactating women, says Elizabeth Narrowe, administrator of Sida's humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa.

In other words, 66 milions in a period of just one year!

Persson and Schibbye had been in jail since July 2011, when they were arrested while trying to cross from Somalia into Ethiopia's Ogaden region along with fighters from the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front, which Ethiopia classifies as a terrorist group.

Last December the journalists were sentenced to 11 years for abetting terrorism and entering the country illegally. They denied the terror charges, saying they were in Ethiopia simply to do their work as journalists.

Now, get the picture:

July 2011 arrested August 2011 50 million

December 2011 condemned July 2012 16 million

In 2011, Ethiopia received 262 million Swedish crowns.

http://www.openaid.se/countries/etiopien

The connection with aid is very simple: The pardon of the two "Swedish" journalists represented many million of Swedish crowns to the Swedish taxpayers, as RobinHood implicated in his #1 post.

Ethiophia might be the paradise of Africa, but, why should Sweden pay for the release of two journalists that went into the country with the guerrilla on one side and without pass on the other?

Is os fair for the Swedish tax payers?
19:21 September 11, 2012 by Frank_W
Yeah well.. I was there in May 2011 discussing whether the Ethiopian Foundations workshops would be good enough to handle the Volvo mechanic training thing if they took the opportunity... so the connection isn't that clear.

In April 2012 the political scuttlebut was the journalists were already "approved" to be pardoned... so perhaps this time the difference was the Swedes didn't threaten to pull the aid already agreed.. as they apparantly did when they wanted the Ethiopian army to help make it easy for Lundin.

No it would not be fair to the Swedish taxpayer if Sweden paid for the release of the journalists... and of course it has happened before that aid has been used as a trade off for something. Just not in this case... ut then the waste of money called aid to Africa in any form is not fair on the Swedish taxpayer or donor... but that is a different subject.

My personal opinion and experience of "foriegn" aid and its use or misuse is such it would not be printable here... and I do not work for a Foundation funded by Swedish taxpayers or public donations. I work for a Swedish Aid Foundation supported by contributions from African governments and investors.

That actually puts us right offside with the conventional western aid scene which is little more than a self sustaining industry making little or no contribution to any "third world" development at all. Just as SIDA - most revenue goes to supporting themselves in the "style to which they have become accustomed" and they contribute nothing of any value on the ground.
22:26 September 11, 2012 by RobinHood
For the record, Ethiopia appears at number 120 in Transparency Internationals corruption index, making it one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Sweden stands at number four, making it one of the least.

I think we can all agree that poor Frank doesn't know what he's talking about.
01:30 September 12, 2012 by Frank_W
Yeah Man.. you really do got it.. you've been there unerstand it all and nobody else understands a damn thing.
06:49 September 12, 2012 by RobinHood
Frank, you say you went to one of the most corrupt countries in the world, but didn't see anything wrong with it. Are you sure your understanding of the situation is correct? It seems to rather contradict that of Transparency International, who say Ethiopia is a den of thieves.

You say you are responsible for the allocation of other people's money there. Are you sure you have the necessary qualifications and wisdom to do your job? It seems to me, you might be somewhat ...... innocent.
16:53 September 12, 2012 by FutureHuman
RobinHood,

I don't see what you are acheiving by personally attaching Frank. You presented your evidence of Ethiopia's high corruption and that ought to be enough.

That said, I don't think that TI Ethiopia ranking is enough to conclude Ethiopia is a country of thiefs.

First, TI's index has it's own measurement issues and it's very much confounded by other institutional characteristics of the country. For example, the fact that Ethiopia is not a full democracy plays a great deal in the 'perceptions' that are measured - people tend to think there is more corruption in non-democratic systems (perhaps they're right, but we can't be sure).

Second, Ethiopia 120 TI corruption 'perception' index (out of 183 countries) is not bad compared to how poor the country is (and given that corruption estimates are very much biased against poor countries).

Third, TI 'perception' index is too general and difficult to appy for how aid works for example. Knowing this, a number of studies have tried to assess corruption with foreighn aid money in poor countries. And, the findings so far indicate that Ethiopia is in deed one of the very few poor countries that puts aid money to good use, making it popular among donors. This has been claimed by many independent papers including The Economist. Aid in Ethiopia is said to reach those who need it with little waste.

I'm not a huge fun of foreign aid, and not certainly the kind of aid that is attached to studpid conditionalities, but if countries like sweden have to give aid to poor countries, I think they should give it to a country like Ethiopia which is doing an amazing job in providing education, health and much needed infrustracture to their poor citizens. Study the changes that happened in Ethiopia in the last decade and you'll understand what I mean.
07:09 September 13, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

I fully agree. Sweden should give aid to Ethiopia, especially to assure that the two convicted journalists were going to be pardoned.

I think that some of the discussions here are directed only to prove how much someone knows about a certain item.

The point here is that Bildt said something that it does not fit with reality. He went to Ethiopia after the perdon was granted and not to influence the government for releasing the two convicted Swedish journalists.

They were pardoned, together with other 1, 948. I do not think that

money was given by these in order to be pardoned. The amnisty was given because it was planned so by the government of Ethiopia, but, in the case of the two convicted Swedish journalists, the pardon was given because of the contributions made by Sweden in 2011 (252 million Swedish crowns" and the two last ones given while the two convicted Swedish journalists were in jail; that is 66 milions Swedish Crowns.

Source: Swedish International Development

Cooperation Agency

Page and Volvo mechanic training in Ethiopia

Published: July 13, 2012

Updated: July 13, 2012

In a joint project with Volvo Construction Equipment start page an advanced training for mechanics in Addis Ababa. Until 2017 betting Page 16 million in the project, which aims to increase the number of trained technicians in sub-Saharan Africa.

Additional 50 million to save lives in Ethiopia

Published: August 12, 2011

Updated: August 12, 2011

Sida has decided to provide an additional 50 million to the effort to save lives and alleviate suffering in Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa. - Of that 40 million to a fund that can quickly step in with resources when needed and where needed. 10 million UNICEF will use to include saving 200,000 malnourished children and investigate 600,000 pregnant and lactating women, says Elizabeth Narrowe, administrator of Sida's humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa.
17:38 September 13, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
Resume of Somali-Ogaden terrorists (sponsored by Eritrea) the leftist Swedish reporters championed as freedom fighters:

BBC NEWS: 74 Chinese & Ethiopian oil workers machine-gunned asleep in bed.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6588055.stm

REUTERS NEWS: UN workers ambushed, killed, kidnapped

http://af.reuters.com/article/ethiopiaNews/idAFLDE74D0CU20110514
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