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Interview with President Isaias Afwerki ( Part I)

It is to be recalled that during his stay in New York to attend the 66th UN General Assembly session President Isaias Afwerki held discussions with leaders and officials of different countries. He also conducted an extensive seminar to thousands of Eritrean nationals living in the US and Canada. Upon his return home the President conducted an interview with the local media. First part of the interview follows.

Your Excellency, President Isaias Afwerki, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to interview you amidst your workload. If we start with international issues, in your speech to the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, you categorized the current global situation citing the prospects and opportunities that could lead us into a better situation and on the other hand that the existing global situation should be measured by the huge challenges and danger the world is facing. Could you clarify in depth the two extremes?

The danger we see unfolding in the world is now obvious. If we look at the situation in America and Europe in its global context, their influence and role on global matters is diminishing.  The existing economic problem in the world is an accumulated one and not to be taken for granted. And it is not something that could be resolved with temporary remedy. The efforts being taken to resolve the problems by the concerned governments is getting slimmer and slimmer and no one could forecast where it is heading. The general trend is obvious and the consequence will be dire. Not only in the areas we are talking about but will also have influence on Asian, African, and Middle Eastern countries. The situation in America and Europe, with the dominance that existed, is understood that with continuous economic crisis the uncertainty will grow. If we look on the other side, however, the world is in the process of change. It is well perceived that with the hegemonic trail and policy and the military, economic and political interferences that brought about huge damage in different parts of the world, it is well understood where the change is heading to. When will be the time? When would the aspired development be realized passing through the growing popular discontent against the powerful nations? Looking at these questions, it is obvious that the hegemonic and dominant trend will not continue for long. This is the promising stage in the existing objective situation. Such a scenario had never existed in the 20th century. Since this scenario is seen happening in the first few years of the 21st century, what would it look like after five, ten, twenty years?  Looking at the general trend of development we can say that there exist two extreme scenarios.

You underlined that the challenges the world is facing today were accumulated over the course of years and there needs to take place concerted efforts and structural adjustment for resolving them. What is the expectation from those emerging countries and the ones in the process of reemerging from the crises? What does structural adjustment and guideline incorporate? What should be done so that we could witness a world where justice and equality prevail?

Following the end of World War II, that means for the last sixty years, there existed one superpower, and that is the US. Today we can no more talk about the developed world because the urge for change that we observe everywhere in the world has diminished the dominance and central role of the First World in international affairs. The reason for the success of the emerging countries is that they have clear and viable economic policy. At the time in which the dominance of the First World countries is diminishing and the other countries are emerging the balance of power will definitely exist. The power shifts from those dominant powers to those emerging ones. We could not compare the existing situation in Asia with that of twenty-thirty years back. There are emerging countries in Asia and Latin America. The same in Europe. There is renaissance in Russia. Looking at the position Russia had after the Second World War, when it was called the Soviet Union and its situation after the collapse of the Cold War, it may be considered the leading emerging country. Russia is not one of the dominant countries; it is a developing country.  The stability that will be created with the emergence of countries like Russia, China and other developing countries and the diminishing power of those dominant forces, the balance that will be created would be huge. We cannot say that will happen in a short period.  However, could those emerging countries sustain their development? Or is there an expectation that they will come to a halt? There is no way that they will cut short. If we ask could the influential countries, which are currently going into recession, re-emerge through temporary readjustment? Though they claim, there is no indication for such development. They can not re-emerge and retain their dominance and hegemony.

You also stressed that the initiatives witnessed in the Arab world and the Middle East would not be limited to those areas only, and understanding that there exists the same sense of anger and frustration in many developed world countries one should look at it seriously and boldly face the situation. What are the scenarios? Where particular areas of the world? What should be the reaction of countries?  

The developments we are witnessing in North Africa and the Middle East should not be seen in isolation. At a time where the world is becoming “one village” and where a situation in one country or part of the world influences the other, one can not look at the relationships and alignments in isolation. The antagonism in the so-called developed world is between the small minority with special interest and the vast majority of people. The discontent and frustration of the majority denied of equal opportunity is growing through time. Opposition of peoples is visibly on the rise with the high unemployment rate, skyscraping living standard, reduction of production and the constraints and limitations of consumption. People could not stand the political, economic and social violations. Maybe for the last decades the picture might have looked different for obvious reasons. The transformation we are observing to-date is not going to stop. There is no reason for the apparent changes in the Americas, in Europe and other countries to stop because the economic damage has been too much. Unsubstantiated outlook and perception of the dominant forces had become borderless. Special interest groups and their likes have been dominating the world by creating their own network. It has been perceived that no one could challenge their influence and power. To-date, diminishing of their power has become obvious. We can talk about the ongoing change country by country and region by region because if we try to see it in isolation, it would not give us the right picture.

If we talk about the change in Egypt, we cannot perceive the regime that was in power in isolation from the global hegemony and adventurism. We should see it in terms of the regime’s alignment with outside forces and whether the uprising was unique to that country only outside that of the global order. Economic and social impairment in one country, region or worldwide could not be resolved with temporary remedy. We cannot also declare that this is “their unique problem or their own malaise.” We should ask, does the same situation occur in other countries? Are others immune of this? Could it not be repeated in other countries? A single authoritarian, oppressive and hegemonic power could not go for ever denying social justice to its people, because there is a limitation that people could tolerate the absence of social justice.

The situation we are observing in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and the situation on the rise in Europe and America, unless basic solution is in place it will have dire consequence. They might try to contain it through temporary remedy, but it would be impossible. That is what we have been discussing with a number of leaders. No solution could come through temporary solution or trying to confront it by force. There should be a basic solution. If we look at the situation unfolding in the Middle East simply as “Middle East Uprising or Arab Uprising” that will wrongly lead us into concluding that the situation is unique only to that particular region.              

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