A Do-able solution for Ethio-Eritrean Relations

A Do-able solution for Ethio-Eritrean Relations

I don’t have time to list out the unnecessary tragedy brought up on the Ethio- Eritrea 30 years war  and the subsequent 20 years of tragedy since the Eritrean independence  as an introduction  which would have been the right thing to do but I just saw this advert so want to dive direct into the issue due to time constraint.  

The purpose of this paper is to find and think of solution based on mutual respect and understanding of the two nations as the only way forward. There are three topics that I would like to present that would pin points the issues and would be solutions to the stalemate conflict of the two countries.They are as follows:-

  • Eritrea must get reassurance from Ethiopia 
  • Stop negative media campaign and less nationalistic approach from both sides.   
  • Open trade between the two countries 
  • Eritrea must get reassurance from Ethiopia 

One reason for the continuous militarization of Eritrea and dedication of entire time and economy  to psychologically and physically train the nation especially the youth (sawa camp) is the false premise that Ethiopia as “an ever present  giant threat next door “  It is understandable Eritrea feels this way.   This is   typical behaviour of State Relation but should not be; certainly not in this day and age!

So, regardless of the frosty relationship between the political elites of the two countries, and the unresolved issue of boarders, it is paramount that the two countries should immediately begin talks on a small scale. Cuba and USA are good example to follow how it is done.

Ethiopia, as much larger country, Population, economy and most of all a bigger sister hence should   extend an olive branch to Eritrea and offer peace talk.  Here, I want participants to think outside the box of who is right, wrong and who did what mind set.  That is not the point of peace talks.  We have to think of the ultimate goal which is lasting peace and prosperity to the two nations and ending of misery and untold tragedy to the people of these two countries especially to Eritreans! So, Ethiopia must fully respect the sovereignty of Eritrea and must provide Eritrea unconditional reassurance that it is no threat to Eritrea.

This to include the two countries should not get involved in each other’s eternal politics  Doing so, may also make the Eritrean public  realise that Ethiopia is not their enemy but a good neighbour, a brother, sister land therefore the constant call to arm themselves is not a necessarily rather the cause of all their problems!

  • Stop negative media campaign and less nationalistic from both sides.   

I happen to be an Ethiopian with many Eritrean friends.  Some of whom were my university mates. We discussed these issues in depth but none of us went into politics despite studying politics; as such to make a difference. Others are my good friends with whom we share good friendship and Habesha ties.
The two countries are people who have blood ties, cultural connection, we continue inter- marry and share many more common grounds.  We have much more similarities than differences.  In the Diaspora we look out and look after each other.  We talked about the daily tragedies of our people in Mediterranean Sea and other foreign lands where our people are subjected to harsh and cruel treatments.

 This was 10 years ago.  Today, the problem is persisting and getting worse by the day.  We are the talk of every office politics and racist gibes in the UK, other European countries and the Middle East.     In the Sudan, Emirates, Saudi, Libya and other places, our people face harsh treatment and hardship.  The death toll is simply unaccounted because no one knows how many perish and in what circumstances every day.

 When you see all these, surely there is only one solution and that solution is our people have to be able to live in their homeland without harassment, imprisonment and economic constraints that pushes them to illusive  dream of going to Europe or wherever as an escape and better option which is being proven it is not!!!!!

The first step is to stop on negative media from either side.  Let the focus be the people not the governments of these two countries. This is a people’s solution for the people.  May be, Diaspora Ethiopian and Eritrean communities can start the process by organising community events, discussions and positive political awareness movements which hopefully will extend to the politicians!

 We should also stop the paranoia that one is spying on the other.  There is nothing to spy or hidden in this life.  Thanks to 24 hours every minute and second communication and information technology.  Besides, the result of bad governance and bad policy is spilling in the doors of other countries in the form of our brothers and sisters being top of the international refugee list along with desperate nations such as Syria and Afghanistan as they pour daily on the med. Nothing to spy on when one’s people are an international case of discussion daily, there is serious failure in the system.     We have no valid reason to be in this position other than bad governance to be the cause.    

  • Open trade between the two countries 

We have tried war, mass migration; closed boarders severed diplomatic ties and god know what?  All we got out of such animosity is huge death, destruction, family breakups, humiliation and human misery for the people of these two countries.  Surely from the point on, the only thing left for Ethiopia and Eritrea is to seek peace. As nations to have some self respect; that is when we see Eritreans and Ethiopian in the jungle of Calais and on the motor ways of UK falling from a track, shows a people abandoned and neglected by their countries.

  One way of achieving lasting peace is to start trading with one another.  Allow import/export with each other.  Allow the free movement of the two people to the two countries freely and without unnecessary bureaucracy.  I often envisage a day where Eritrea will become the new Dubai, even with better scenery and natural beauty to offer.  I dream it would be favoured holiday destination to the fast rising middle class from Ethiopia with so much disposable income both to spend and invest!  There is not a single good reason why this should not be the case.  I am happy to hear anyone can tell me a reason why this is not achievable.  

 This will create thousands upon thousands of jobs for people from the two countries.  This will open the gate to a huge untapped income to boost the Eritrean /Ethiopian tourist Economy.  It would be the beginning of the end of narrow nationalist thinking which is the cause of so much pain and suffering.  I remember during the last years of Etho\Eritrea war, the biggest fear and stick to weep Ethiopia with was that Ethiopia would be dismantled without a port after Eritrea gained independence.  Thankfully, we all know that did not became the case.  The tragedy rather is, Eritrea sitting on three ports that no one uses!!!!

How can this be right?  Who benefit from such nonsensical policy?  Therefore Ethiopia and Eritrea need to restart negotiations for Ethiopia to use Eritrean port. Of course paying like it is doing with Djibouti right now. This will bring Eritrea much need cash and is really one major way to peace making.

There is also another benefit to this approach. When there are economic ties based on mutual respect and free trade, there is so little time to spew out the politics of hate and warmongering.  People are much more inclined to think what they have to lose- especially after 50 years of conflict; this must be the only solution that is a win-win for all.   Ethiopia and Eritrea genuinely need each other and having a good relation is a must; such approach and position is only advantageous to both countries.  

Both Ethiopians and Eritreans are very hard working, god fearing people with good work ethics.  We are also very peace loving people.  In the Diaspora the people of the two nations are often referred or known for these characters by everybody else, why then do we desire war, conflict and destruction in our lands?????

A thriving of Eritrea and Ethiopia together will have more benefit.  There is a huge Diaspora force that is always yearning to go back to our respective lands.  So, the day true peace return to these two countries,  not only would it be the end of the tragic scene on the Mediterranean sea but it would also open the door for so many to come back home and invest into an thriving economy in our beautiful lands.  

This really is a win-win proposal for all and most importantly it is do-able.  Leaders and government policies should be open for discussion.  Let our leaders think of being remembered as the leaders who ended Ethio/Eritrea conflict and brought prosperity and lasting peace. Not the ones prolonged it and caused the unnecessary loss of many innocent lives. Surely this must be a better way.

Presented by Hirut Mesfin Fajembola
United Kindom