Eritrea reopened its embassy in Ethiopia on Monday, taking yet another step in the implementation of the peace pact reached between two countries a week ago that effectively ended two decades of military stalemate.
Eritrea has reopened its embassy in Ethiopia, another evidence of the rapid improvement of relations between the two countries that a week ago ended two decades of military stalemate over a border war in which tens of thousands died.
At a brief ceremony on Monday, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki jointly raised the Eritrean flag inside a newly refurbished embassy as a military band played Eritrea’s anthem.
Ethiopia and Eritrea expelled each others’ envoys at the start of a 1998-2000 border war that killed around 80,000 people.
Monday’s embassy visit marked the end of the Eritrean leader’s three-day stay in Ethiopia, which also included a visit to an industrial park and a Sunday evening dinner and concert attended by thousands of Ethiopians.
The visit came just a week after Abiy signed an agreement with Afwerki during a landmark trip to Eritrea’s capital Asmara. The agreement formally declared that the “state of war” between the neighbouring countries was over.
Abiy said last Tuesday that his government wanted to implement a deal restoring relations with Eritrea quickly to “make up for lost opportunities” after a two-decade military standoff.
The normalisation of relations could help Ethiopia, a landlocked country of 100 million people with the largest economy in East Africa, by making access to Eritrea’s ports possible. Better ties could help Eritrea overcome decades of relative isolation.
Ethiopian Airlines is scheduled to conduct the first passenger flight between Ethiopia and Eritrea on Wednesday.
Adira Kallo with agency reports