Over the last two years, a major breakthrough has been made in relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea. On the occasion of the historic visit made by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, to Asmara, from 8-9 July 2018, Eritrea and Ethiopia have signed a Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship.
The Joint Declaration puts an end to the state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and commits the two countries to forge close political, social, cultural and security cooperation; resume transport, trade and communication links and diplomatic ties; implement the decision on the boundary; and endeavor to ensure regional peace, development and cooperation.
The new relationship opened the way for lifting the unjust sanctions against Eritrea and Eritrea's re-entry into the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). On September 11, 2018, land transport between the two countries resumed followed by air transport service which one again linked the two countries.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have so much in common. They can engage in cultural, scientific and development cooperation to ascertain the sustained development of their respective countries.On the subsequent trips he made to Eritrea, the premier focused on regional peace as a major precondition for mutual economic development in the area. In the context of the reform in the country, Ethiopia's commitment to peace and development on in the Horn remained intact.
The recent three days official visit paid by President Esayas Afeworki will indeed help to further cement the cooperation between the two countries in a more meaningful and practical manner to ascertain mutual benefits for the peoples of both countries.
As I have indicated in my previous contributions, the relations between the two countries are far beyond their common border.
The historical, cultural and traditional bondage between both countries will certainly serve as bedrock of cooperation between the countries of the Horn in the areas of security, economic cooperation in trade, agricultural development, joint infrastructural development, promotion of cross border public health initiatives against COVID-19 and other regional health issues, joint efforts to curb cross border arms trafficking and contraband, promotion of cross border trade, and a number of mutually beneficial undertakings.
The leaders of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia need to work together to create a strong integrated economic corridor on the Horn by utilizing the resources at their disposal. For instance the Horn is rich in mineral resources like potash that is used to make fertilizers. The region is rich in aquatic resources that can be jointly developed by the three countries.
For instance with the full cooperation of both countries, the youth in Ethiopia and Eritrea can fully engage in the promotion of their livelihood and also engage in sub-regional and bilateral cooperation to fight off poverty from their respective countries. The result of the blind influx of Ethiopian youth and Eritreans to foreign lands is here for all to witness. Both countries are losing their future hopes that they could have tapped from their youth. This certainly needs to be halted once and for all.
The peoples of Eritrea just like the peoples of Ethiopia and the entire peoples of Africa need peace, democracy and development. Both countries need to settle their accounts in acting in the best interest of the peoples of their countries. Peace, democracy and mutual development is the only way out. The peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea are already fed up of war, internal displacement, natural and man-made calamities. Both countries are well aware of the ravages of war. Both countries are already realizing the importance of ensuring lasting peace for the benefit of their respective peoples.
Given the threats of sea piracy and all forms of illegal trade in the region, cooperation in the promotion of regional security is of crucial importance in the Horn of Africa where terrorist organizations are busy in triggering mass displacement of millions of fellow Africans fleeing terrorist induced civil conflicts.
It is worth noting that Ethiopia can provide cheaper hydroelectric power and other renewable energy resources for Eritrea and other countries of the Horn. It stands to reason that the countries of the Horn establish a full-fledged socio economic commission that can coordinate joint sector economic development programs particularly focusing on agriculture with emphasis on agro-industry.
Ethiopia and Eritrea are two of the countries of the Horn endowed with rich tourist potentials that can be exploited by both countries. Tourism is an important area of cooperation that the two countries can develop through joint ventures in exchange of tourist exchange programs.
Over the next couple of years, Ethiopia-Eritrean relations are expected to be crowned with result based deeper socio-economic and cultural relations that would set an example for comprehensive development integration in the rest of Africa. All the more it would help to markedly reduce the level of the permanent tension that the Horn has experienced over the last several decades.