Ethiopia: historic visit of an Eritrean delegation

It’s historic. An Eritrean government delegation arrived in the early afternoon of Tuesday, June 26 (14:00 local time, 11:00 GMT) in Addis Ababa for a visit aimed at ending decades of hostility between the two neighboring countries.

Between 1998 and 2000 the two countries fought a war that left 80,000 dead around a disagreement on their common border.

Today, the border is under UN surveillance, but tension remains high and clashes are frequent. It is thus a first diplomatic contact which is established between two sworn enemies.

The Eritrean delegation of Osman Saleh, Foreign Minister, and Yemane Gebreab, Special Adviser to the President, were greeted with great pomp at the Addis Ababa airport by the new Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed Abiy. It was he who initiated this bilateral warming earlier this month.

Ahmed Abiy, who has initiated unprecedented reforms in the country, has also announced his willingness to end the conflict with his neighbour by respecting the 2002 peace agreement that provides for a new border.

Eritrean President Issaias Afeworki responded to the “positive signals” of Addis Ababa on June 20 by announcing the visit of this delegation.

On Tuesday afternoon, the spokesman for the Foreign Minister of Eritrea said hopefully “when we make peace, it will benefit all of East Africa.”

Unimaginable just a few weeks ago, this visit remains only a first step towards reconciliation… Because if the decision of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia to turn the page of the border conflict has been welcomed by the international community, it has been greeted with suspicion by part of the population.

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