Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to resolve the protracted conflict with Eritrea. Announced earlier in October, the Prize also honoured his mediation efforts in eastern Africa and the democratic reforms he has undertaken in his country, long ruled by authoritarian leaders.
Ethiopia witnessed a tangible progress in the months after he took power in April 2018, but the winds have since shifted: in addition to the stalled peace process with Eritrea, his reforms aimed at opening up Ethiopia have paradoxically given rise to a flare-up of ethnic tensions.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has received the Nobel Peace Prize and has been phrased by his role played resolving the long-running conflict between the Ethiopians and Eritreans.
“I accept this award on behalf of Ethiopians and Eritreans, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of peace, Abiy said after he received the prestigious award in a formal ceremony at Oslo’s City Hall.
Meanwhile, the Nobel festivities have been tarnished by Abiy’s refusal to traditional questions from the media, as the ex-intelligence chief has considerably shortened the usual Nobel programme and cut out all news conferences.
The head of the Nobel Institute, Olav Njolstad, called the decision “highly problematic”,
underlining that a “free press and freedom of expression are essential conditions for a lasting peace in a democracy.”
Abiy’s team responded that it was “quite challenging for an incumbent leader to spend several days at such an event, especially when “domestic issues are pressing and warrant attention”.
The inauguration of the Eritrean Embassy was the culmination of President Isaias Afwerki three-day visit to Ethiopia, his first to the country in 22 years.
“I feel boundless joy as I convey to you the message of peace, love and good wishes of the people of Eritrea. And, I congratulate you warmly for the successful and historic changes that you have brought about,” President Isaias said at a concert celebrating the peace process at the Millenium Hall in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.
Former foes Ethiopia and Eritrea declared intention to cooperate on developing ports on Eritrean Red Sea coast, Ethiopia’s state broadcaster said, the day after the leaders met and agreed to normalize relations after a 20-year military confrontation.
“In their meeting, the leaders agreed to restore ties and resume flights by the carriers of both countries. In addition, they agreed to participate in the development of ports,” the state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation said.
Ethiopian government spokesperson Ahmed Shide said that the re-opening of two critical roads leading to the ports of Assab in Eritrea’s south and Massawa in the north would benefit the whole region.
“The unfolding developments will not only benefit our peoples, but the entire Horn of Africa region will be a part of these developments,” Shide was quoted as saying in an interview published on the Eritrean information ministry website.
At present Massawa port at Red Sea has been receiving a substantial Chinese investment to enlarge and develop infrastructure. A contract of $400 million covering a construction period of 40 months since 2014 the Phase I Massawa New Port Project included design and erection of 70,000t bulk cargo terminals and a 50,000t multi-purpose terminal; construction of the corresponding port area and incoming road.
Ethiopian rapprochement with Eritrea opening an access to Red Sea ports is becoming a part of larger strategy of African governments assisted by China planning future trans-African transportation corridors, and opening a competition between Djibouti as an paramount African trading gateway, and two Eritrean ports Massawa and Assab.
Eritrea and Ethiopia intend to re-establish diplomatic and trade ties after decades of a protracted conflict.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki made the announcement during historic meeting hosted in Eritrean capital Asmara.
It is the first time the leaders from the two East African neighbours have met in almost two decades of a protracted territorial conflict.
Cut off sea Ethiopia, the second most populated country in Africa, slided into a protracted conflict with its former province Eritrea, which declared independence and established its control over the sea coast, impacting Ethiopia’ geopolitical and economic situation.
A peace deal was signed in December 2000. However, Ethiopia refused to accept the final ruling of a border commission two years later, which awarded disputed territory to Eritrea, including the town of Badme.
The countries have been on a war footing ever since.
Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have met for the first time in more than 20 years amid a recent problems in relations between the two long-time East African rivals.
In a break-through visit, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed landed in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, on Sunday, July 8 for a bilateral summit, aimed at repairing relations between the two countries. Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki warmly greeted Abiy at the airport, Eritrea state television showed.
The visit comes a month after Abiy surprised people by fully accepting a peace deal that ended a protracted conflict between the two countries. From now onwards Eritrea and Ethiopia should agree on durable adjustments that would need comprehensive cooperation, good faith and diplomacy to establish, and respect borders.
Additionally, the countries may opt to swap lands to avoid potential border disputes, Daily Sabah reports. All these demand thoughtful coordination between the two parties. Fourthly, parties would have to agree on areas to establish border and customs posts. This, too, requires the two countries to work together closely. Finally, as a sign of goodwill, the two countries would have to shun and renounce the use of opposition groups and proxies against each other.
“The recent announcement by Ethiopia that it is ready to fully implement the Algiers Agreement and the decision of the boundary commission, as well as the decision by the President of Eritrea to send a delegation to Addis Ababa to that end, are decisive steps towards the resolution of the longstanding differences between the two countries” – the statement of the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini says.
“The settlement on the border issue would benefit Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as stability in the Horn of Africa region”.
“In line with the Chairperson of the African Union Commission’s statement, the EU also stands ready – as a witness to the Algiers Peace Agreement – to assist Ethiopia and Eritrea on their path towards reconciliation”.