Speech made by H.E. Ato Ketema Yifru at the opening of the Preparatory Conference of Foreign Ministers. May 15, 1963.

Distinguished Foreign Ministers, ladies and Gentlemen,

I am deeply sensible to the honor you have shown to me in electing me as Chairman of this conference, and I assure you that I shall do everything possible to justify this honor and the confidence that underlies it. 

We all know what it is that has brought us here together: the quest for African Unity and the search for solutions to the problems, which travail the continent today. It would be inappropriate for me, at this time, to touch in detail upon the measures which not only Ethiopia but, I think, all of us basically agree can and should be taken to these ends. The African States find themselves today, as regards the issue of African Unity, with wide areas of common agreement among them. In our work here we should concentrate on these. 

Africa is facing great responsibilities and great challenges. But at the same time, never before has the opportunity been so great to reach agreement on matters of common interest and to translate these agreements into reality. The time before us is short and should not be wasted in idle discussion of matters, which will not make a real contribution to the achievement of the unity of Africa and the solutions of our problems. We have not come here in an attempt to solve all our problems, nor all the problems of the world. If we can solve even a portion of Africa's problems, this Conference and that to follow it will have been productive indeed. If we permit ourselves to become embroiled in argument on questions, which do not relate directly and specifically to the central issue of African Unity, the time at our disposal will slip past. 

It is essential that in the days ahead we are guided by the fundamental principles of the cause of African Unity. We can agree on positive steps. Let us do so. Each step takes us just that much nearer our goal and makes the next step just that much easier to take. Our views are identical on many questions. Our opinions are unanimous on many matters. The areas in which African States can decide today to cooperate their activities include virtually every aspect of national and international life. If we begin from these premises and work together in good will, Africa will prove not only that ultimate union is possible, but also that we are more than worthy of the independence which we enjoy and the increasingly important role which we are playing in world affairs.

I thank you again for the great honor, which you have bestowed on me.