President Isaias responds to Prime Minister Abiy’s “olive branch

President Isaias, speaking this week on the occasion of the celebration of Martyrs Day in Asmara on Wednesday (June 20) and referring to the “positive signals issued in these past days”, announced he would send a delegation to Addis Ababa. He said events and developments that had unfolded in the region in general and in Ethiopia in particular warranted appropriate attention. “For this reason, and outside any myopic considerations of public relations stunts and advantages,” he said, “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.”
It was just over two weeks ago, on June 5, that Ethiopia announced its commitment to implement the Algiers Agreement and the decisions of the Ethio-Eritrea Border Commission unconditionally in order to resolve problems with Eritrea in a peaceful manner. Prime Minister Abiy underlined this on Monday (June 18) when he stressed that it was time to put an end to the situation between the two countries and bring jobs and prosperity to the people living along the border.
The Government quickly welcomed President Isaias’ response and promptly reaffirmed its readiness for talks with Eritrea. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed responded by expressing his readiness to welcome warmly and with goodwill the Eritrean delegation. He noted the “constructive response” of President Isaias saying it “is essential for the mutual benefit of both countries”. In a specially recorded message, he thanked President Isaias for accepting his olive branch. Speaking in Tigrinya he said: “So that he can hear me, I want to say few words in his language,” `adding, “To our brother President Isaias Afwerki, I would like to convey my gratitude for the new view you expressed today. We will welcome the delegation you send not as guests but as Ethiopians, and I would like to inform you that I will receive them in my office and speak with them. Peace to the people of Eritrea and peace to the people of Ethiopia. I believe that peace is necessary now more than any time before and I assure you we will work together [to achieve it]. This is great news for the Eritrean and Ethiopian people.”
In his speech, President Isaias said that as with the case of Eritrea, the people of Ethiopia also relished peace and harmony with their neighbour. There was nothing surprising or novel about this. He stressed that the positive signals issued recently could be seen as an expression of popular choice. The complementarity of both peoples and countries, their common bilateral interests and prosperity, were, he said, “sacrosanct objectives to which we have toiled and paid sacrifices for two generations. As such, it remains a priority for which we will be actively engaged.”
President Isaias’ decision to send a delegation to Addis Ababa has been widely applauded. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, welcomed “the recent positive developments in the relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia”. These included Ethiopia`s announcement on June 5 of commitment to the full implementation of the Algiers Peace Agreement of December 12, 2000, as well President Isaias’s decision on June 20 2018, to dispatch a delegation to Addis Ababa for constructive engagement with Ethiopia. The Chairperson commended Ethiopia and Eritrea and their leaders, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki, respectively, “for these bold and courageous steps.” His statement encouraged them “to persevere on this path, in order to open a new chapter of cooperation and good neighbourliness between Eritrea and Ethiopia.” He stressed that sustainable peace between the two countries would have “a tremendously positive impact on peace and security, as well as development and integration, in the Horn of Africa region and the continent as a whole.” He said it would also provide a significant contribution to the goal of ending all conflicts and wars on the continent by 2020, as pledged by the African Heads of State and Government in May 2013. In line with pronouncements made by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government, and within the framework of relevant continental instruments, the Chairperson of the Commission also reiterated “the African Union’s readiness to assist the two Member States, in whichever way deemed appropriate, to address the challenges at hand and in taking all steps required towards the full normalization of their relations.”
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres also welcomed “the positive steps taken by Ethiopia and now Eritrea to resolve outstanding issues in the normalization of their relations.” The Secretary-General commended the efforts of their leaders to achieve sustainable peace and good neighbourly relations and expressed the UN’s readiness to provide all support.
The EU High Representative/Vice president Ms. Frederica Mogherini said the recent announcement by Ethiopia and the decision by the President of Eritrea to send a delegation to Addis Ababa were “decisive steps towards the resolution of longstanding differences between the two countries”. She said the settlement of the border issue would benefit Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as stability in the Horn of Africa. Her statement added that 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.
A statement from the White House said the United States was encouraged by the progress that Ethiopia and Eritrea had made to resolve longstanding disputes and normalize relations. A durable peace will yield greater prosperity and security not only for the citizens of Ethiopia and Eritrea, but also for their neighbors, the United States, and the world. It commended Ethiopia’s statement on June 5, 2018 announcing that Ethiopia fully accepts the 2000 Algiers Agreement, issued in the context of positive political and economic reforms. The United States also welcomed Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s June 20, 2018 commitment to send a delegation to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to advance the peace process. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki have demonstrated courageous leadership by taking these steps toward peace. It added that Ethiopia and Eritrea had a critical role to promote stability and prosperity in the Horn of Africa. The United States looked forward to a full normalization of relations and the realization of shared aspirations for both countries to enjoy enduring peace and development. As a witness to the Algiers Agreement, the United States stands ready to facilitate progress toward this goal.