Date: Sunday, 28 October 2018
Eritrea has told the Berlin government to "refrain from meddling" in regional affairs after the African country's human rights record drew criticism in Germany's parliament, the Bundestag. A statement posted on the Eritrean Ministry of Information website on Saturday described a speech earlier this month by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as "appalling."
Maas' comments centered on the signing of a peace agreement in July between Ethiopia and Eritrea to formally end the two neighbours' 1998-2000 war. He noted that while Ethiopia had made headway in expanding the human rights of its citizens, there had been a lack of progress in Eritrea.
"Reforms similar to the bold ones being carried out in Ethiopia have not been initiated in Eritrea so far," Maas told MPs. "On the contrary, there’s still no strategy to indicate how an orderly opening up within the country could look."
Maas singled out Eritrea's decision to maintain compulsory national service, which he said was "a key means of controlling society."
The war caused massive civilian displacement, which led many thousands of Eritreans to cross the Mediterranean to claim asylum in Europe. Germany currently has about 75,000 asylum-seekers from Eritrea; some 15,000 young Eritreans sought asylum this year alone, Germany Development Minister Gerd Müller said during his recent trip to Ethiopia.
This year alone, Germany has donated €200 million ($228 million) in humanitarian assistance to the region.