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Ambassador of Eritrea to Russia Petros Tseggai: Eritrea is interested in military cooperation with Russia

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Monday, 17 July 2023

Petros Tseggai: Eritrea is interested in military cooperation with Russia

11:00 16.07.2023(updated: 11:02 16.07.2023)
Ambassador of Eritrea to Russia Petros Tseggai - RIA Novosti, 1920, 07/16/2023
Ambassador of Eritrea to Russia Petros Tseggai. Archive photo

Eritrea is interested in developing military and energy cooperation with Moscow, Ambassador of the Republic to Russia Petros Tseggai told RIA Novosti. In an interview with the agency correspondent Valeria Balykina, he spoke about whether President Isaias Afwerki plans to take part in the second Russia-Africa summit, what priority projects Asmara and Moscow should develop, and about the pressure that his country is experiencing from the United States.
- Mr. Ambassador, what new incentives are planned in Russian-Eritrean relations following the results of the May meeting of the leaders of the two countries? During the talks between Vladimir Putin and Isaias Afeworki, it was announced that they intended to sign several intergovernmental agreements. What areas do they affect?
— At the moment, the countries are at the beginning of a long journey of long fruitful cooperation. During the meeting of the heads of state, certain agreements were reached in many areas. For example, in the field of culture, international security, military cooperation and many others. However, it is still too early to talk about any concrete results. The results will be visible in the near future.

— Our interview is dedicated to the upcoming Russia-Africa summit. Will the Eritrean leader come to St. Petersburg ? What priority issues should appear on the agenda of the forum?

— Yes, Mr. Afeworki has accepted the invitation (of Russian President Vladimir Putin – ed.) and plans to come to the summit. Among the proposed issues on the agenda are issues of international security and the problem of an arms race in outer space.
— What is the level of business contacts between the two countries? Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said that Russia and Eritrea agreed to create an interdepartmental consultation mechanism on trade and the economy. How is work on it going?
- We can say that at the moment the level is low, our countries are working to increase it. After the creation of certain mechanisms for interstate interaction, we can expect an increase in activity on the business agenda. In the near future, an exchange of delegations is planned between Russia and Eritrea, and they will consider the possibility of business contacts.

- Lavrov, during his visit to Eritrea, said that Russia is ready to meet the needs of Eritrea in maintaining its defense capabilities. How is military-technical cooperation with Moscow developing six months after this visit? Are there any plans to soon deliver weapons and military equipment from the Russian Federation or conclude a defense contract?
— Military cooperation between Eritrea and Russia has existed for a long time. At the moment, Eritrea is interested in exploring issues of priority in the supply of products. Both countries are actively working on the development of this vector of interaction, but it is still too early to talk about signing major contracts.
— Eritrea is rich in oil deposits. Do Russian businessmen show interest in oil exploration in the country?
— This is a common opinion about Eritrea, which is associated primarily with the geographical location of the country in the area of ​​active black gold mining. However, despite the popularity of such a position, it is still too early to unequivocally state the volume of oil reserves. It is necessary to carry out in-depth research and development work.
We hope that Russian companies will be happy to provide some assistance in working through this issue, especially after the visits of Lavrov to Asmara and the President of Eritrea to Moscow. At the moment, there are no substantive discussions, but we still hope to start work on this vector of bilateral relations in the near future.
- Earlier you said that it is inconvenient to buy grain directly from Russia, so other countries are suppliers. Was this topic discussed during the meeting of the two leaders? Does Eritrea plan to resume imports of Russian grain, agricultural machinery?
- The meeting of the two leaders had an extensive agenda, affecting all the main issues, including, among other things, the issue of direct grain supplies. In this regard, I can only say that with a high degree of probability this issue was discussed during the meeting.
- Earlier you stated that Asmara is not interested in the presence of foreign military bases on the territory of your country. Has this position changed after President Afeworki's visit to Russia?
As far as I know, this position remains unchanged at the moment. Time will tell how relations between our countries will develop in this direction.
- With the support of the USSR, an oil refinery was built in Eritrea, but now it is out of order and cannot be restored. Are there any discussions with Russian companies on the construction of a new enterprise?
No, there are no discussions. At the moment, there are more pressing issues that need to be addressed first. But it is important to note that we Eritreans are happy to see Russian companies as partners in this area. At the moment, no significant results have yet been achieved. Now is the time to develop Eritrea in a peaceful way, and Russia can help in this.
- Earlier you said that Asmara has great tourism potential and is of interest to Russians, so the launch of direct flights is not excluded in the future. Are there discussions about this now?
— Yes, indeed, the tourism potential of Eritrea is quite large. Which of the Russians would not like to be in the homeland of the Arap Peter the Great, in the land of the ancestors of the unsurpassed Alexander Pushkin? The launch of direct flights is possible, but not in the near future. At the moment, there are many more priority aspects of interaction between countries. At the moment, there is no tourism infrastructure of the required quality in Eritrea: there are not enough hotels, places of recreation, especially on the seashore - in the region most desired by tourists. There are certain problems in the field of providing all tourists with the highest level of service. We are pleased to welcome entrepreneurs from Russia who wish to participate in the development of tourism infrastructure in Eritrea. If we had a developed tourist infrastructure, we could receive more than 200,000 people a year from Russia alone, not to mention other countries.
- Your country has become a co-author of a draft resolution of the Russian Federation calling on the UN Secretary General to create an international commission to investigate the sabotage at Nord Stream. Why do you think, after almost six months of investigation, the authorities of Denmark and Germany remain silent about the details of the sabotage at Nord Stream?
- Hard to say. I have no desire to speculate with facts. Only these countries can answer this question.
- The head of the Foreign Ministry of Eritrea, Mr. Osman Saleh Mohammed, said that Asmara is under constant pressure from the United States due to support for the position of the Russian Federation. Has this pressure intensified after the visit of the President of Eritrea to Moscow?
“The pressure on Eritrea has been there for over 80 years! Now, of course, after these events, there is a trend towards increasing pressure, expanding the list of sanctions and providing support from the United States to any organizations that oppose the interests of Eritrea. The United States seeks to vilify and demonize our country, our president, our people. I do not know why. Perhaps the reason is that Eritrea wants to go its own way.

ERi-TV, Eritrea - ጸብጻብ ዑደት ፕረዚደንት ኢሳይያስ ኣፈወርቂ ኣብ ዋዕላ ደቡብ ኮርያ አፍሪቃ | Reportage on President Isaias Afwerki's visit to South Korea for the South Korea-Africa Summit, held from June 3-4

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