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Eritrea delegation arrives in Ethiopia ahead of landmark talks

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - A high-level Eritrean delegation led by foreign minister Osman Saleh arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa for talks on ending the decades-long conflict between the two countries. The delegation - which was

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – A high-level Eritrean delegation led by foreign minister Osman Saleh arrived in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa for talks on ending the decades-long conflict between the two countries.

The delegation – which was received by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Tuesday – also included Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s right-hand man Yemane Gebreab.

It is the first time in more than two decades that a top-level delegation from Asmara visits Ethiopia.

The visit comes a week after President Afwerki said the East African country would dispatch a delegation to Addis Ababa to “gauge current development” in the region.

“We will send a delegation to [Addis Ababa] to gauge current developments directly and in depth as well as to chart out a plan for continuous future action,” he said.

‘Committed to reconcile’

Earlier this month, Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said Addis Ababa would fully accept and implement the terms of a peace agreement between the countries.

“We are fully committed to reconcile with our Eritrean brothers and sisters and extend an invitation to the Eritrean government to start dialogue and establish rapport,” Abiy told parliament earlier this month.


The UN-backed agreement, which was signed in 2000, awarded disputed territories, including the town of Badme, to Asmara.

The two countries fought a bloody border war in 1998 that left more than 80,000 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands.

Eritrea, which comprised of Ethiopia’s only access to the sea, broke off from its larger neighbour in 1993 leaving Addis Ababa landlocked.

Abebe Aynete, an Addis Abab-based analyst, said the visit could mark the end of the political deadlock between the East African countries.

“This visit is very significant and when the agreement is fully implemented it will mean the people of the two countries can finally have friendly relations. It will also improve the security of the region. The proxy wars between the two countries will also end,” Abebe told Al Jazeera.

“The outcome will be felt not just in the disputed territories but across East Africa. The implementation of the agreement might also lead to political reforms in Eritrea,” he added.

For the first time since the start of the conflict, the Eritrean flag hung side-by-side with Ethiopia’s on the streets in downtown Addis Ababa on Tuesday.

Many in the Ethiopian capital welcomed the arrival of the delegation and the recent thawing of tensions between the two neighbours.

Broken family ties

The conflict not only displaced thousands but also broke up many families.

Sipping espresso in a coffee shop in downtown Addis Ababa, local journalist Yonas Abraham said the peace talks have been long overdue.

The conflict turned his world upside down in ways he never imagined.

“I’m Ethiopian. My family is Eritrean, so when the war started they were deported. I remained in Addis Ababa,” Yonas told Al Jazeera.

“I missed my fathers funeral because I could not go to Eritrea. I have not seen my family for 20 years,” the 40-year-old said, with his brother, the only family member he has left in Ethiopia, sitting beside him.

Abraham was not deported because he worked for a government-affiliated media outlet in Addis Ababa.

His brother, Bereket, who is also a journalist, was deported to Eritrea along with the rest of family but sneaked back into Ethiopia and sought refuge.

“There are no words to describe what happened to our family. We suffered greatly. We lost everything,” he said.

The brothers say they cannot wait for the two countries to normalise their relations.

“As soon as the door opens we will both go to Eritrea to reunite with our family. We miss them a lot,” Yonas, the elder of the two brothers said.


Review overview
  • rezen June 28, 2018

    Subject: Eritrea delegation arrives in Ethiopia ahead of landmark talks June 26, 2018

    Commentary, 27 June 2018
    Let me, once again, dwell on the characteristic that we are displaying in the HOUR of utmost necessity to come together and conquer our common problems, instead of wasting energy to defeat ourselves by ourselves! It is a strange phenomenon. Bear with me.

    Let me go back to our significant past history of Eritrea and our admirable capabilities in any endeavour that we engaged upon at any place, and at any time. Take the Ethiopia of YESTERYEARS. Without any exaggeration, Eritreans were the pillars of economic developments in the Empire of Ethiopia. Detailed History can testify that Eritreans were known to be hard working people at any occupation that they were involved. Take sport — Football. Eritreans were the catalyst for the development of that sport in Ethiopia. The legendary sportsman, Bless His Soul, by the name of Yidnekatchew would have attested to that significant historical fact. Without involvement of the Eritrean team Yidnekatchew, with his life long obsession with that sport, would have had a hard time introducing that sport in a society who had a deamining opinion about adults kicking inflated “bladder” [ፊኛ]!!!!!! Oh! Yes, all in all, without appearing to be emotional, Eritreans had contributed a significant part of the Economic Development Foundation for the Empire of Ethiopia, in various innumerable fields of endeavor.

    In the other extreme of Life i.e. WAR, the Eritrean people have already demonstrated, beyond a shadow of a doubt, their valour, gallantry, dedication, stamina during a 30-year war for Liberation. Eritreans have already proved that they CAN ACHIEVE whatever their hearts and minds are set upon to achieve. This is NOT bragging; it is a fact.

    There is also another fact about Eritreans, albeit a sad one. In short, Eritreans were deceived by their own indigenous elements. But this fact does NOT in any way eliminate the gallantry, dedication of the Eritrean people upon any endeavour. Still it is the current sad story of the Eritrean people who found themselves tragically in insidious sociological problem that can disintegrate the unity of the Eritrean people into pieces.

    In fact, the above characteristic, became the TOOL of the self-appointed President Issayas Afewerki Abraha who ingeniously and patiently (for twenty-six years) used the WEAK POINT of Eritreans and to become the leader of fighting force and elevating himself to the absolute master of the entire people. This is in tune with his own words, enunciated in a moment of relaxation with a glass of spirit: “ከር እየክን እዬ” And he did – in broad day light, as the saying goes.

    Getting angry and insulting Issayas every day is NOT going to change the slavery-like existence of Eritreans. Let us admit: we are our own enemies. We permitted ourselves to be the enablers of a dictator to subjugate us according to his own whim!!! Consequently, we are now hopelessly divided into three >>> a) those who oppose in words from a safe distance ; b) those who protect their leader, no matter what; and finally, c) those who gave-up on Eritrea, thus searching for their own Life somewhere else. Eritrea is like a waste water in a tub, swirling around and around down the drain into extinction.
    What is the root cause of the above self-destruction? It is the age-old sociological problem of diversified identity and supernatural belief. We are stuck with our own creation of self-destruction!!! Take the diaspora. There are about 80 to 90 opposition groups – presumably all working for the same cause >>> to get rid of Issyas. It will not happen – for the simple reason that the underlying motive of the “opposition” is based on self-interest, NOT for the benefit of the Eritrean Mass.
    And so, the charade will go on, and on, and on aimlessly until we find ourselves nowhere but under the yoke of foreign powers of half century ago.
    But on the other hand, there is a mysterious ‘force’ in Life – unknown to us of its coming — and our future generations may find themselves in a situation where they are master of their destiny. It is a wishful thinking – the least WE can do at this point in time. THE END

    Post Script I do not believe the new dynamic young Ethiopian Leader can help Eritrea. The calling of a meeting is a good gesture as well as a smart way of detraction of local inflated problems. At the risk of being nuisance to my Readers I repeat (over and over again) that the problem of independent Eritrea can only be solved by free Eritreans only. Less than that, we go back to history.

  • rezen June 28, 2018

    Simon G, may I come in again I cannot resist. Your kind adulation and putting me with giants is too much, way beyond above my head. But I am HUMAN, with natural weakness: the insidious glowing of pride and happiness cannot be controlled. So, with the REALITY on the background, I THANK YOU very much for your generosity. rezen.

    • Amanuel June 28, 2018

      Bergann bmirisaen tiwaewae zibelu kab motn turetan zikoblelu, menesey welledo bhiwetu kulitu zishetu, siltanu askiruwom ab siltanu nimixnah weledotat zexnetu diper kikiyerelom Addis Ababa atiom. Zegerim. 27 amet bakinu yiblena dima keyhafere. 20 amet niweyane enteatabikulom eti 7 bmen bakinu yiblena eyu? State of emergency hijiwn aytelaelem ertra bhuxux gizie awaj timehader ala. Nimintay? Ethiopia hijiwn sigat dia niertra?