The declarations were clearly not liked by neighboring Eritrea which, despite having signed - for essentially tactical reasons - a historic peace agreement with the rival country in July 2018, has recently seen relations with Addis Ababa worsen again, especially after the end of the war in Tigray which saw the two countries fight together against the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF). Eritrea "was not involved" in the talks hoped for by the Ethiopian prime minister on access to the Red Sea, the Eritrean government spokesperson was keen to point out, Yemane Meskel, adding that the issue “has left all interested observers perplexed.” The spokesperson then defined as "excessive" the "talks" on access to the sea and other related topics "that have emerged in recent times".
In recent days, the affair has also involved neighboring Somalia, which rejected Ethiopia's request to start talks to gain access to the sea. When asked to establish a dialogue on the topic, the Somali Foreign Minister Ali Omar responded bluntly that "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Somalia - land, sea and air - as enshrined in our Constitution, are sacrosanct and are not subject of discussion”, and this although his country “is committed to strengthening peace, security, trade and integration”. In short, Mogadishu does not seem interested in providing access to a strategic resource such as a port, and would not even be interested in exchange for participation in other infrastructure projects: this is the case, for example, of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd ), of which - according to some press sources - Prime Minister Ahmed even proposed to cede some shares to Mogadishu in exchange for the longed-for access to the sea.
Since the closure of access to the sea following Eritrea's independence in 1993, Ethiopia has depended on neighboring Djibouti for more than 85 percent of its imports and exports. For Addis Ababa, access to the sea becomes even more urgent if framed in the relaunch of the Belt and Road Initiative - BRI, the maxi infrastructure project promoted by China, Ethiopia's solid partner. Without ports under its jurisdiction, Addis Ababa risks being left out of a strategic project and, more generally, seeing the influence it can exert on the region in the infrastructural field weakened.