10 July 2018

East Africa: Horn of Africa - Ethiopia, Eritrea End State of War, Re-Establish Ties

Photo: Yemane G. Meskel
Eritrea and Ethiopia have signed a Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship today. The Agreement, which specifies five pillars, was signed this morning at State House by President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

The thaw in cooperation followed the visit by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to Eritrea.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on July 9, 2018 signed a Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship, putting an end to the state of war between the two countries that lasted 20 years. The BBC reported that the deal that was struck at the end of a two-day visit by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to the Eritrean capital, Asmara, ushers in a new era of peace and friendship.

The two sides also agreed to promote close cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural and security areas. "We salute the leaders - Ethiopian PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea for their courage and doing the right thing for the people of the two countries! We congratulate you and are with you!" Rwandan President Paul Kagame tweeted after the announcement.

"I congratulate Ethiopian PM Dr. Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki for choosing the path of talking to each other and beginning the journey of friendship. Kenya is a proud neighbour. I agree with Paul Kagame, we are together with you," Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta wrote. The African Union Commissioner for Peace, Smail Chergiui, described the meeting as "historic."

After meeting Isaias Afwerki on July 8, 2018, Abiy Ahmed announced the reestablishment of trade and diplomatic ties and the imminent opening of embassies in each other's capital, Radio France International, RFI reported. Similarly, frontiers will be reopened. "We agreed that air links between our two countries be reopened soon, while landlocked Ethiopia will be allowed to use Eritrean ports on the Red Sea," Abiy said. It was the first time leaders of the two East African neighbours were meeting in almost 20 years.

After the 1998-2000 border war that claimed about 100,000 lives, a peace deal was signed in December 2000 in Algiers, Algeria. However, Ethiopia refused to accept the final ruling of a border commission two years later, which awarded disputed territory to Eritrea, including the border town of Badme. Ethiopia and Eritrea have been on a war footing ever since. The historic meeting between the former arch enemies follows a recent visit to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa by an Eritrean delegation.

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