The following is a quote from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, responding to concerns expressed by Sweden about press freedom in Ethiopia:
The decision of the Government of Sweden to engage Ethiopia through media polemics can only be described as thoughtless and injudicious … designed to sidetrack Ethiopia into recriminations … [Sweden] should recognize the danger of making such meddlesome and intrusive statements.
The Meles government is highly dependent on the Aid money it gets from Sweden and other European governments. Yet, it puts out press releases such as these because, in the up-side-down world of Ethiopian politics, the Ethiopian government treats its own population as a hostage. Each time some Western diplomat says something publicly and annoys the ruling party, the regime tells that country that it will severely punish the Ethiopian populace if they don’t stop. In the current case for example, if the Swedish government were to persist in expressing concerns, EPRDF will proceed to interfere with (or expel) Swedish aid and humanitarian missions that had stepped in to do the work the Ethiopian government is unwilling to do (recall EPRDF expelled the Red Cross from the Ogaden a few years ago). EPRDF will continue to play these games because it can count on another country stepping in once the population has been sufficiently penalized. This way it silences any and all criticism even among its donors. The solution for ending these games is for European countries to have a united voice in addressing the regime.