This month marked a historic turn of events in the Horn of Africa politics as it unfolded a new era of friendship and diplomacy. Starting from June 20, 2018 when President Isaias Afwerki announced that an Eritrean delegation was going to Addis Ababa for a new chapter of diplomatic and friendly engagement with Ethiopia, the tidings of peace in the Horn of Africa have been blowing at an energetic pace.
This month alone has witnessed the historic visit of Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed and President of the Republic of Somalia, Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Indeed, Eritrea has achieved a momentous diplomatic victory, and a new door has opened that molds a vibrant political dynamism in the Horn of Africa.
Asmara has been busy with the residents filling the streets to welcome both leaders upon arrival. It was an occasion the Eritrean people demonstrated their devotion and enthusiasm for a lasting peace and cooperation in the region. Following the visit of Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed, the President of Somalia, Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, paid a three-day visit to Eritrea, from 28 to 30 July, at the invitation of President Isaias Afwerki. This visit marked the strengthening of the long friendly ties of both countries and the cementing of a new historic diplomatic chapter.
Upon arrival at Asmara International Airport on July 28, 2018, President Isaias Afwerki and senior government officials accorded warm welcome to the Somali delegation led by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Accompanied by the marching band playing the national anthems of Eritrea and Somalia, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was handed a wreath of flower in honor of his arrival and women representing all the nine ethnic groups of Eritrea played songs prepared in his honor.
On their way to the state palace the Somali delegation in a motorcade were accorded warm welcome by people of all ages, including religious leaders, athletes, artists and the local inhabitants waving flags of both countries. President Isaias and President Mohammed Abdullahi stopped the motorcade to honor the residents with handshakes in three different locations.
President Isaias hosted a dinner reception at the Municipality Hall in honor of the Somali delegation which included the Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism,the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Public works and the State Minister in the Somali Foreign ministry. The guests to the dinner reception also included senior government and PFDJ officials, Army commanders, religious leaders and members of the diplomatic corps in Eritrea.
During the speech they delivered at the dinner reception, both leaders underlined the importance of the historic visit in opening a new era of relations between the two countries. In an interview before the dinner reception, the Somali Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Tahir Mohammed Gele, said that the historic visit marks a new historic juncture in both countries. He also added that the prevailing era of friendship and cooperation in the Horn of Africa has heralded hope and peace in the region.
In the morning hours on Sunday, July 29, President Isaias honored President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and his delegation with a visit to the Southern and Northern Red Sea regions to witness the major development projects underway in Tekera, Misilam, and Demas dams. The strategic development programs include the conservation of water, the putting in place of solar power plants as well as the breeding of animals.
During the 10-hour drive to the development sites, the motorcade of the delegation was greeted by local inhabitants of villages and towns alongside the road. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed also met and held talks with Somali refugees in Eritrea.
Before wrapping up the three-day official visit on July 30, President Isaias Afwerki and President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed signed a joint declaration of friendship and cooperation which included the assignment of ambassadors to the two countries, the encouragement of trade and investment relations, and the exchange of experiences and cooperation in the domains of culture and education. This is expected to lead to regional peace, stability and economic integration among countries of the Horn of Africa.
As part of the joint agreement, Eritrea reaffirmed its stand and support to the Somali political independence, sovereignty, as well as the people and government of Somalia’s effort to restore a strong and united Somalia.
The Somali delegation returned home on 30 July after a three-day official visit to Eritrea. This visit will make a significant contribution in bolstering the historic ties of both countries and in opening a new era of relations between the two governments.