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Are Ethiopia and Eritrea on their Way to Lasting Peace?

Recently Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, during his consultation with representatives from the Tigray region of Ethiopia, stated that he established a committee to investigate if the Eritrean army is occupying land that belonged to Ethiopia beyond the Algiers agreement. If the committee finds Eritrea occupies land that belongs to Ethiopia beyond the Algiers agreement, he said he would work to solve the problem in consultation with the Eritrean government. The Eritrean government’s consistent policy is it does not want any land beyond what the Algiers agreement, through its Ethiopia and Eritrea boundary commission (EEBC), determined that it is Eritrean land. Here we see a consensus and common ground between Ethiopia and Eritrea to come to lasting peace. The next course of action is to allow cartography professionals from the two countries or the United Nations to determine the exact boundary line between the two countries based on the Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates set by the Ethiopia and Eritrea boundary commission.

Such development is the third opportunity to establish long-lasting peace between the two countries. The first opportunity was lost when the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) led Ethiopian government refused to honor its commitment to accept the Ethio-Eritrea boundary commission’s final and binding verdict given on April 13, 2002. After rejecting the boundary commission’s decision, the TPLF created a no-war and no-peace situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea for 27 years. The second opportunity was opened when the new Ethiopian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, announced on June 5, 2018, that it fully accepted the terms of the Algiers Agreement and the subsequent verdict of the Boundary Commission without preconditions. However, the withdrawal of the Ethiopian Army from areas recognized as Eritrean and subsequent demarcation of the border once again was blocked by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Although people may say that the current Prime Minister Abiy’s speech is a continuation of the June 5, 2018, agreement, so many things happened in between, and I want to categorize it as a third opportunity to cement a lasting peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Why is such a development significant?

Peace in the Horn of Africa Prevails.

Where there is peace there is economic development and prosperity. The successive wars between Ethiopia and Eritrea impeded investment and created hunger war and destruction. In some regions of the world war is fought only once and soon after countries learn from their mistakes and work to create a conducive environment for peace. Unfortunately, this never happened in the Horn of Africa. The inclination to solve problems through the barrels of a gun has cost the people of the Horn dearly. Accordingly, it is time for the governments of the Horn of Africa and especially the Governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia to work hard to materialize peace in the region and give their people a respite from constant insecurity, war, and destruction. It is time to learn from European countries where borders are clearly demarcated but do not create any impediment to the people in the countries.

Enhances Economic Cooperation Between the Two countries.

The major problem between Eritrea and Ethiopia has been Ethiopian successive rulers’ persistent efforts to see Eritrea faulters. Instead of trying to advance economic, cultural, and political relationships between the two countries, Ethiopia’s ruling elite’s provocative and continuous open threats forced Eritrea to remain in stand-by mode for twenty-seven years. As a result, many have perished, hopes shattered, lives destroyed, and others left their countries for good. When Ethiopia abandons its antagonistic approach towards Eritrea for good a door for economic cooperation between the two countries opens. If Ethiopia respects Eritrean independence and stops its expansionist ambitions, there is no reason for Eritrea to close its boundaries and stay in a war footing. Trade between the two countries can start and Ethiopia could use Eritrean ports according to international norms at a reasonable price. Eritrea in turn can import electricity from Ethiopia which is currently hampering it economic development and social well-being. When there is prosperity in either country people in the other country can move to the other country easily and benefit from such development and prosperity.

Can create Political and policy Realignment.

When countries understand that their national interest can be fulfilled through common partnerships and cooperation it opens the opportunity for the countries to create political alignment. However, such a common bond can only be established when countries eliminate factors that could create mistrust and uneasiness about the other country’s intentions. On the Eritrean side, there is a long-held common consensus that Ethiopia’s long term intention is to abort Eritrean independence. Prime Minister Abiy’s unconditional acceptance of the Algiers agreement and its subsequent EEBC decision is key to minimizing Eritrea’s suspicion of Ethiopia’s negative intentions about Eritrea. When the Ethiopian Elites understand that Eritrea is an independent country with an independent political identity it would not be difficult for Eritrea to reciprocate. When differences in political approaches to issues of common interest arise, they can be resolved through discussion around the table rather than through the barrel of the gun.  Ethiopia and Eritrea can advance their national interest by supporting each other rather than moving on separately.

Can help both countries to use their resources to fight hunger and poverty.

The Horn of Africa is the least developed region ravaged by successive wars and conflicts. When there is war and conflict, the governments divert their meager financial and human resources to it. This is truer in Ethiopia and Eritrea than any other countries in the region or beyond. If Eritrea and Ethiopia can divert their excessive military spending to fight hunger and poverty, the people in the Horn of Africa Region could be on their way to free themselves from aid and able to feed themselves at least twice a day, drink clean water, send their kids to school and get treated when they are sick. In short, the people of Ethiopia and Eritrea can become dignified human beings.

Conclusion.

The recent speech of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia regarding resolving the border issue with Eritrea peacefully is a sign of hope to the people of the two countries and the wider region at large. However, given the last two lost opportunities to establish a long-lasting peace between the two countries, cautious optimism is the right approach to it. To be on the positive side if Ethiopia and Eritrea demarcate their border once and for all there is not any other major reason for the two countries that will not be able to solve. This opens the door for the two countries to sit around the table and talk about other pending issues and open their countries for trade, investment, and other avenues for cooperation.

Awet N’Hafash and Eternal Glory to Our Martyrs.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions titled "Are Ethiopia and Eritrea on their Way to Lasting Peace?", are those of Abel Kebedom and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Setit Media. ኣብዚ "Are Ethiopia and Eritrea on their Way to Lasting Peace?", ዘርእስቱ ጽሑፍ ተገሊጹ ዘሎ ርእይቶን ሓሳብን ናይ Abel Kebedom እምበር መትከላትን መርገጽን ሰቲት ሚዲያ ዘንጸባርቕ ኣይኮነን።

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