The African Union (AU) has described the normalization of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea as a boost for peace and security in the Horn of Africa region and on the continent as a whole. The AU’s view is also shared by the European Union (EU).
Both blocs issued statements on Monday congratulating leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki respectively, for resolving to establish friendly relations after two decades of armed hostilities.
According to an AU statement, “the ongoing normalization process between Eritrea and Ethiopia is a milestone in Africa’s efforts to silence the guns by 2020.”
The EU on its part said, “Breaking a twenty year old deadlock in bilateral relations, it raises unprecedented prospects for reconciliation and paves the way for enhanced regional cooperation and stability in the Horn of Africa,” in a statement issued by foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini.
Prime Minister Abiy returned to Addis Ababa on Monday (July 9) after a two-day official visit to Asmara, where he was warmly received by the government and people of Eritrea.
At the end of the visit, the two leaders signed a five-point agreement ending twenty-year war and restoring relations between them. The summaries read as follows:
- State of war has come to an end
- The 2 nations will forge close political, economic, social, cultural & security cooperation
- Trade, economic & diplomatic ties will resume
- The boundary decision will be implemented
- Both nations will work on regional peace
The war between the two countries began on 6 May 1998, sparked by a battle for the control of the border town of Badme – a humble, dusty market town with no apparent value.
The war ended in June 2000, but it was another six months until a peace agreement was signed in Algiers, establishing the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC).
The Algiers Agreement stipulated that the two states would accept the decision by the EEBC as “final and binding.”
However, when the EEBC delivered its decision awarding the town of Badme, the epicentre of the war that killed tens of thousands from both sides, to Eritrea on 13 April 2002, Ethiopia backtracked from its commitment. The late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi eventually said his country would not accept the ruling without the preconditions of further negotiations with Eritrea, leading to sixteen years state of no war no peace between the two countries.