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. Fourth part and final of the interview follows.
It has been indicated that Eritrea is registering significant progress in every aspect. On the other hand we believe that it is very difficult to register progress alone while there is a turbulent environment in neighboring countries. Could you clarify the progress Eritrea is registering in terms of regional and global measurements?
One could not think of the impossible. At the time in which the world is getting closer to each other and growing influence one tries to do his homework to reinforce developmental programs to attain the highest developmental stage. That, however, could not be realized in isolation. One could imagine what influence the cumulative effort could have. We could say we did this and that and count our achievements. That should not mislead us. We could not claim our progress, contentment and development in isolation from that of our neighbors and the world at large. Our neighbors should follow the same trend of development so that our efforts get more strength and momentum. Had the continuous instability, crisis, suffering and harm being done on people, that is forcing countries lag behind been alleviated a better situation could have been created. It is paramount important to create a mechanism for the efforts we have been working hard for regional stability and economic integration and to integrate developmental programs in each country so that to create a wider opportunity. No one could say “It’s okay we can go slow until our neighbor develops.” We have to proceed jointly. You do you homework and at the same time pay attention to the developments in your neighbors. That is something that should be done emanated from strong belief and not for the sake of saying.
Before you went to New York, you received and held talks with Sudanese delegation in Asmara. Could you describe the developments in Sudan and the course of action that should be taken?
The issue of Sudan is not something that one could talk about in one or two hours. Sudan has been one country. Efforts have been exerted to improve the discrepancies, unequal distribution of resources and low participation of people. On our part we have been contributing our level best for the last 20 years for regional stability and development. In the end the situation in the Sudan resulted in the division of that country. As a phenomenon it is not an issue whether to believe or accept, but if we ask is it over? The answer is it is not yet over. The situation on the ground is different. The issues of Darfur and Abyie are not resolved. There are pending issues regarding the distribution of oil resources. There are recently emerged border issues in South Kurdofan and Blue Nile. Taking into consideration the new phenomenon emerging in South Sudan, the opportunity of becoming an independent state, the possibility of surfacing new economic challenges and relationships with the countries of the region, the remaining pending issues what we call “time bombs” are not simple. Though there is the will for resolving the challenges, it would not be that simple with the enormity of the problems and the question of their sustainability. Our policy of engagement for regional stability and cooperation, though not new, is to work hard to resolve the problems I just mentioned. However, above anything else the issues belong to the Sudanese. They have to resolve their problems by themselves. Any other external actor with good will should also contribute. It is for this purpose that we are constantly conversing with President Salva Kiir and officials from South Sudan and Sudan.
You underlined that revitalization of African Union and other regional organizations would be the pillar for African development. What should revitalization incorporate?
In the last 12 years the AU did nothing to bring any change, and that was missed opportunity. 12 years is not easy, there are also previously sixty and something years of missed opportunities. It has been repeatedly said “We shall bring change, there would exist African revitalization.” If we are to compensate the missed opportunities the continent has to speed up its re-organization. The changes we are witnessing happening globally are testimonies for this scenario. There needs to happen a radical change. We have learned what we missed in the last 12 years and beyond. New ideas have been emerging from here and there but with no end conclusion so far. The continental organization, AU, could be sub-divided into regional organizations and even into smaller ones, and the cumulative result should be to realize the bigger targeted goal. Good will and petit co-operations could not help in realizing the bigger goal. The Charter itself should be revisited. The organization and the structure of the regional and sub-regional organizations should reinforce the bigger continental organization and not become vehicles for creating variances. There should be the capacity to solve the problems we are witnessing emerging. No objective could be achieved through foreign aid. Some times it is said the AU is weak to solve its problems and the UN should intervene. However, the UN itself is getting outdated and weak and needs restructuring, and hence Africa could not expect any meaningful support from the UN to solve its problems. Therefore, African Union has to take bold transformation measures in order to register continuous economic developments through efficiently utilizing its resources. The organization would find it hard to properly function unless it is in a position to solve the political, security, economic, social and cultural issues in the continent. In order to achieve such a change questions like, what are the ideas which could bring the desired change? how could the ideas become materialized in the process? where could the resources come from? should be posed and get proper answers.