Date: Monday, 10 September 2018
In the morning hours of the 5th September, an Ethiopian high delegation, led by Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, arrived in Assab for a two-day visit in Eritrea, after a thirteen-hour flight from China where the delegation attended a China-Africa Cooperation Summit.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed and his delegation were warmly welcomed at Asaab airport by President Isaias Afwerki, ministers and high government officials. The leaders then travelled 71 kilometers south east to observe the highway that will serve as a major artery liking the port of Assab to Ethiopia, which has not been functional for more than twenty years. The highway and the port of Assab are expected to become fully operational in three months following the required renovations. The leaders had discussions on how to boost the economies of Eritrea and Ethiopia as well as the other countries in the Horn of Africa. The leaders share a vision that aims to bring about a sustainable economic growth in the near future which may contribute towards regional stability.
At 11 o’clock the party went on to visit the beautiful, ancient and historic port city of Massawa. Massawa, known as the pearl of the Red Sea, is a gateway to Africa that promises a bright future to the nation as its location is of paramount importance to Africa and the world at large.
Despite externally instigated challenges, the Government and People of Eritrea have continued investing on the port city. One such example is the Massawa International Airport built fully with local capacities and expenses. With its 3.5 km long runway, it is the biggest in the nation. Captain Nebiat told journalists that many airplanes can land and take off with a one minute difference.
Prime Minister Dr. Abiy, accompanied by President Isaias Afwerki, was received by high officials upon his arrival in Massawa. Then they went to the Port of Massawa where the first Ethiopian commercial ship on Eritrean seas, Mekele, docked. The ship is said to have arrived in Massawa from Saudi Arabia to transport Eritrea’s minerals to China. The captain that sailed Mekele expressed his appreciation of the port, its location and the collaboration of the two countries that made the trip possible.
The Ethiopian prime minister’s itinerary included a visit to the free zone in Massawa, which gave Dr. Abiy and his delegation a chance to share Eritrea’s vision of self-sustainable growth that takes advantage of Massawa’s location. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed said on the occasion that peace talks and agreements alone are not enough unless they flourish towards economic integration. The prime minister referred to this peculiar moment as a ‘New Year’s Gift’ to the Peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia.
The visit of the Ethiopian Prime Minister in the two port cities of Eritrea is a sign of the on-going implementation of the peace and alliance agreements between the two countries, which began with the resumption of regular flights between Asmara and Addis Ababa, the renovation of roads that is underway and the reopening of the Eritrean Embassy in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian Embassy in Asmara. Prime Minister Dr. Abiy said that the implementation of the agreements is good news not only for the officials of both countries that have been engaged in the process and the people but also for the international community.
In Asmara, on the same day in the evening, President Isaias Afwerki and Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed headed to Asmara International Airport to welcome their counterpart, President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed. In his recent visit in Asmara, President Mohammed and President Isaias signed a joint declaration of four major points of agreement on cooperation and brotherly relations.
As it is the week of the historic Eritrean National Festival, the three leaders spent some time at the Expo grounds, visiting the exhibitions showcased by the six regions, corporations, mining and textile companies and handcrafts. Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki is known for being a keen fan of the youth exhibitions. This year, the honorable guests also showed interest in the section of ‘Invention and Renovation’ where they took time in hearing explanations of the inventions by Eritrean young men and women.
After taking a taste of the biggest festival’s zeal, the leaders headed to the presidential palace where they held extensive discussions for several hours. By the end of the evening the leaders of the three countries –Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea, signed and announced a joint declaration of comprehensive cooperation. They agreed to make inclusive collaboration for the wellbeing of their people, to join hands politically, socially and culturally and to promote regional peace and stability. To help coordinate the implementation of this specific Joint Declaration they have established a High Level Committee.
The news of the tripartite declaration was joyfully welcomed by the people of Eritrea which became the most talked of topic among the public.
The following morning was cheerful as people gathered in the area near Cinema Croce Rossa. Marching bands and army parade were in order. Residents of the area came out of their homes, mostly in their pajamas, among which young children with their pets. The ever energized Eritrean mothers, in their traditional clothes, had already started to dance to their own stunning traditional folk songs, journalists were busy registering people’s feelings and emotions and setting their gadgets, employees of the NUEW headquarters, Eritro- German Center and the American Embassy were aligning alongside the sidewalks. They all were slowly gathering outside, to welcome President Isaias and Prime Minsiter Abiy as they were to officially open the Ethiopian Embassy to Eritrea.
At 9:55 morning hours of Thursday the 7th of September the Ethiopian flag was waving from the new Embassy and President Isaias Afwerki handed the keys to his counterpart, Dr. Abiy.
After his two-day visit, Dr. Abiy left for Addis Ababa soon after the official ceremony of the Ethiopian Embassy’s reopening. President Isaias Afwerki, ministers and high government officials saw off Dr. Abiy and his delegation at Asmara International Airport, and around midday they saw off Somalia’s leader and his delegation.
The historic reunion of the three leaders in the capital, Asmara, marked the first tripartite pact on development, cooperation and regional stability in the Horn of Africa.
As the leaders made their way through the streets of the port cities and the capital, people rushed out on the streets to greet them and cheer the good news of cooperation. The prospects of economic growth in Eritrea and, furthermore, in the two brotherly peoples of Ethiopia and Somalia is a long awaited good news for the Eritrean People. It is also a longstanding aspiration of the Government of Eritrea and, indeed, a foretaste of hope for East Africa.