After decades of hostilities and wars around a border dispute between the two neighboring countries of the Horn of Africa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed arrived in Asmara on Sunday, July 8, where he was received with great pomp by Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki.
Images from Eritrean official television show scenes of jubilation in the streets of Asmara and the warm welcome of Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed on his plane descent.
The two men exchanged smiles and embrace before leaving the airport by the red carpet, heading to the presidential palace to start the discussions.
The exchanges should focus on the normalization of relations between the two countries.
In a tweet, Fitsum Arega, chief of staff of the Ethiopian prime minister, hails an “extraordinary opportunity” for peace.
Indeed, it has been twenty years since the diplomatic relations between the two countries are broken. In 1998, a bloody war broke out around a dispute over their common border. A peace agreement providing for a new route had never been accepted by Ethiopia.
A month ago, relations between the two enemy brothers began to warm up when the Ethiopian Prime Minister announced his willingness to make peace and respect this agreement, then sending an Eritrean government delegation to Addis Ababa.
A diplomatic turning point
Undoubtedly, this visit by the Ethiopian Prime Minister to Asmara is a diplomatic turning point, but there is still some way to go for the two countries to overcome the obstacles to a normalization of their relations.
Indeed, behind the beautiful staging of this meeting, many questions remain unanswered. How to implement the demilitarization of the border zone? Particularly in the Ethiopian city of Badme, which will have to pass under the administration of Eritrea and which is also the symbolic city which crystallizes all the tensions between the two countries.
Moreover, will the Eritrean president, who justifies the harshness of his regime by the need to maintain military pressure, have to reconsider his policy?
As for the Ethiopian Prime Minister, he will have to face the mistrust of a part of the population and some politicians, especially from the Tigrayan community, who had badly received the announcement of the rapprochement between the two countries.