Ethiopia and Eritrea kiss and make up after 20-year enmity

10 Julio, 2018, 03:55 | Author: Arnold Perez
  • Eritrea lines up Asmara streets with Ethiopian flags to welcome Ethiopia PM

Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki warmly welcomed Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed when he landed at Asmara airport.

Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders formally restored relations Monday, ending 20 years of enmity, and citizens from both counties immediately began phoning each other to get back in touch.

Ethiopians could scarcely believe their eyes. While the visit had been rumoured for weeks after lower-level meetings, it still astonished those who have endured almost 20 years of cold war and conflict. The exodus has turned Eritrea into one of the major sources of refugees entering Europe and Israel.

The two neighbors started a frontier war in 1998 that killed an estimated 80,000 people. The two countries did not have diplomatic relations although Asmara has a permanent delegation at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, the Capital of Ethiopia.

Their feuding has hampered economic growth and triggered proxy wars across the region, including in fragile Somalia.

The two agreed to work together on ports, Ethiopian state media said, offering landlocked Ethiopia and its growing economy the prospect of a new route to the Red Sea.

Abiy has made peace with Eritrea a central part of his foreign policy, a decision that has been welcomed by Eritrea's President Isaias Afwerki. Photos showed them sharing jokes and laughter in their first meetings.

Ethiopia's state-owned airlines will resume flights to Eritrea's capital Asmara next week, a state-affiliated news agency reported on Monday, hours after the neighbours and longtime foes declared their "state of war" over. The flags of both countries were fluttering in the streets.

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Ethiopian access to Eritrea's ports will be an economic boon for both, as well as posing a challenge to the increasing dominance of Djibouti which had benefited from importing and exporting the vast majority of goods to Africa's second-most populous country.

"Missiles, tanks and machine guns can capture people, but not their hearts", Mr. Abiy said. Love can win hearts, and we have seen a great deal of it today here in Asmara.

The worldwide boundary commission later decided that Badme, a borderland that was a flashpoint of the conflict, belonged to Eritrea while it ruled that Eritrea should compensate Ethiopia for the huge amount of Ethiopian shipment confiscated in Assab Port. "The last time I talked to them was when I was in a third country".

"The march toward peace might have been a long time coming but we have faith in the love and solidarity of our people", said Abiy at the signing.

Abiy's chief of staff wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning: "Our two nations share a history and bond like no other". "We can now overcome two decades of mistrust and move in a new direction". "The summit would, set the tone for rapid, positive changes on the basis of respect of sovereignty & territorial integrity, equality and mutual interest of both countries", he wrote.

But there are still risks that could damage the peace process.

Abiy's move broke a long stalemate between Afwerki and the long-dominant Tigrayan party in Ethiopia's ruling coalition.

However, Ethiopia has yet to withdraw from disputed territory.



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