By: Inwalomhe Donald
ETHIOPIA and Eritrea relations will promote peace and understanding between Ethiopia and Eritrea in different spheres. Ethiopia and Eritrea economic peace efforts are efforts to promote joint economic projects and efforts between Ethiopia and Eritrea as a pathway to reach peace between the two groups in the Horn of Africa.
What the leaders of both Eritrea and Ethiopia have jointly stated that a full normalization of relations will occur, and in the short term that will involve opening the border, giving Ethiopia access to the ports, reopening the embassies that have been shuttered since 1998, and resuming flights between the capitals. People will apparently be able to cross the border at will—and no mention has been made of any tariffs on goods. (That was one of the sources of conflict before the war.) The Horn of Africa has long been a focal point of strategic interest to outsiders. In fact, for many centuries, the Horn attracted international attention for three main reasons: strategic location; religious and ethnic diversity; and agricultural potential. Now the Tigrayans have been thrown out of power, and overnight, democracy and peace seems to be spreading magically across the Horn of Africa.
With a newly invigorated Eritrea, which is poised to take a leadership role on the regional stage. There’s a strong upside to that: Eritrea could be extremely helpful in resolving the conflict in the Horn of Africa and South Sudan. For example it could help make progress in Somalia. Eritrea, for example, has always talked about the importance of negotiating with all the actors in the Somali conflict, not just the pro-government actors—including parts of the terrorist group al Shabaab. Conflict resolution processes must meet certain prerequisites and conditions. Unless the warring parties or the mediators meet, it will be difficult to find lasting and just solutions to the conflicts in the Horn (Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia, and Somalia). Most of these conflicts have ethnic or religious components and also have a lot do with the nature of the government institutions and the power distribution among the communities within these states. Identifying the main causes of the conflict and the issues involved in each country is a very necessary first step toward peace.
The bottom line is that a partnership between Isaias in Eritrea and a true democratic leader in Ethiopia will allow for the creation of a more authentic regional voice to counter parochial assumptions about the Horn.
Four important countries in the Horn -Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan- border two important waterways: the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. These two important waterways are trying to regain an important role in the international naval trade route system, especially now that some Middle Eastern countries, Russia and some Asian countries are opening up their markets to Africa after the end of the Cold War. Moreover, the emergence of Africa as a potentially lucrative market for Asian electronic technology, the discovery of oil reserves in Sudan; and the effects of globalisation in international trade, make the Horn of Africa an important nexus for Africa’s 21st century economic ambitions. In addition, Sudan’s oil industry potential, water reserves and agriculture potential will allow it to make it an important contribution to regional development once it attains internal stability. Ethiopia too, once its internal problems are resolved, has water reserves and human resources that, if properly used, would add considerably to the region’s growth prospects.
In a shocking diplomatic thaw that reshaped the Horn of Africa, this year Ethiopia’s prime minister announced his country would fully accept a deal ending a 20-year border war with Eritrea. War broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea in 1998 over the border and other issues, killing an estimated 80,000 people before fighting finally ended in 2000 in a contested peace deal.
However, tensions simmered over the position of the frontier until this year when Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed offered to end the standoff as part of a package of reforms that have reshaped the political landscape of the Horn of Africa.
Ethiopia and Eritrea Relations focus on two main ideas. One is that war and the threat of war have shaped the way young people lived their lives, producing different realities in urban and rural areas. The other is that peace has brought the opportunity for young men and women to try and compensate for the chances they have missed and that this notion is clearly grounded on the idea of accessing modernity. The focus on young people’s ideas and their own expression of what their needs and perspectives of the future are may help understand today’s Ethiopia and Eritrea Relations situation and contribute to improving youth policy and action.
The reopening of some of the border crossings, including one earlier this year, is part of the peace deal signed last July by Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The agreement has also seen diplomatic ties renewed and phone links between the two countries restored after being cut off for nearly two decades. The war, fought over the exact location of the common border, began in May 1998 and left tens of thousands of people dead. It ended in 2000 with the signing of the Algiers agreement.
But peace was never fully restored as previous Ethiopian administrations under the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his successor Hailemariam Desalegn refused to fully implement a ruling by a border commission established in terms the agreement. But last July, Prime Minister Abiy and President Isaias agreed to end the conflict and usher in what they called a “new era of peace” that has seen relations between the two countries and other neighbouring states thrive.
The winds of change are blowing across the Horn of Africa following the signing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, of the 17 September peace agreement by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. The two countries have ceased hostilities and restored trade and diplomatic ties, and have planned joint projects.
Donald writes from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia via