Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki said Wednesday he will send a delegation to Ethiopia to assess how to move forward, following the latter’s June 5 announcement that it will accept the terms of a long-disputed border agreement between the two countries.
Afwerki, speaking to the nation during Martyr’s Day events, broke his silence on Ethiopia’s reversal and said the Eritrean diplomatic team will go to Addis Ababa “to gauge current developments directly and in depth,” ending a standoff that has spanned nearly two decades. He did not set a specific date.
“As it is the case with Eritrea, the people of Ethiopia also relish peace and harmony with their neighbor. There is nothing novel in this fact,” the president said. “The positive signals issued in these past days can be seen as an expression of this popular choice.”
While Afwerki affirmed the “bilateral interests and prosperity” of the Ethiopians and lamented the lost opportunity of two generations for both nations, he vilified the former TPLF-led government. He said the Ethiopians themselves were the victims of a country that is now at a turning point under new Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
“What is the destination? How will this be achieved? These are timely questions that must be raised. But although it will require time and efforts to remove the TPLF’s toxic and malignant legacy and to bring about a congenial climate, the positive direction that has been set in motion is crystal clear,” Afwerki said.
Abiy reversed Ethiopia’s refusal to accept the terms of the Algiers Agreement established in 2000, which requires Ethiopian troops to leave the town of Badme and surrounding disputed territory. The ruling followed a two-year conflict in the ethnically and historically linked region, but was never implemented as Ethiopia balked at the findings of the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) that supported Eritrea’s claim to the land.
Ethiopia’s latest decision was viewed as a surprise by observers, but it is consistent with the reform-oriented focus of the new EPRDF leadership.
Image: Government of Eritrea