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An Exclusive Interview with Yohannes Teklemichael, Eritrea’s Ambassador to South Sudan

Recently, the Eritrean community in South Sudan organized activities to welcome the New Year and celebrate Christmas. A group from the Eritrean Ministry of Information and a cultural troupe from Eritrea attended the events. Today, we are pleased to bring you an exclusive interview that Eritrea’s Ambassador to South Sudan, Yohannes Teklemichael, held with Eritrean media outlets.

  • -Thank you for joining us, Mr. Ambassador.  Could you tell us a little about the relationship between Eritrea and South Sudan?

Eritrea and South Sudan have had strong relations, dating back to the armed struggle.Of course, in the past, there surely were some troublesome times. However, with the recent visit of our Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser,Yemane Gebreab, our historically strong bonds are being restored. Also, we all recall that the President of South Sudan,SalvaKiir, made an official visit to Eritrea not too long ago. So, with everything that has been happening in 2018, and with all the diplomatic visits made, we are about to witness a peaceful and much brighter future.  A time to work hard and help each other is what we are looking for.

  • -Mr. Ambassador, what does the Embassy of Eritrea in South Sudan do?

The Eritrean people are the foundation of everything that we do. Whether political or diplomatic,everything we do is based upon the foundation of the people. For this specific belief to become reality, our number one goal was to form strong Eritrean organizations, such as the YPFDJ in South Sudan, community groups, and the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW). In addition, we have seven taskforces that we work hard, including security, information, professional aspects, and finance. For instance, in regard to the professional and economic taskforce, Eritreans who live in South Sudan donate a small amount of money to help host the events that we organize.

I have worked in other areas and I can honestly say that their activities cannot compare to those of the Eritreans in South Sudan. The people here give anything to be by the Embassy’s side. For every event that we organize, we have halls to use through the support of the community.During the recent holiday, we had more than $US 70,000 raised in just one hour. That illustrates just how dedicated the Eritreans here are. They contribute all they can, be it money, energy, time, and heart.

Additionally, we have more than 300 YPFDJ members here. These are only those who have a membership card. We have many more individuals who just participate in everything. We are working hard to increase these numbers.

  • -What role did the Eritrean community in South Sudan play in the removal of the sanctions on Eritrea?

Every Eritrean is an ambassador of their country. And, as can be expected, all Eritreans had a strong stand regarding the sanctions on Eritrea. The Eritrean Embassy in South Sudan is like a home to every Eritrean. As such, everyone is on our side at various events. The community organized a number of events to call for the removal of the sanctions on Eritrea. The crane of the Eritrean people resides here in Juba. They are always interested in what is going on and they try to play a positive role.

  • -We have many investors who have invested in South Sudan. Can you discuss their investments and their relations with one another?

In the past twenty years, it has been difficult to even think about investments in Eritrea. One of the biggest reasons could be the “no peace, no war” situation in the country. That is why most of the biggest Eritrean investors came here as a second choice. The Eritreans here are doing a great job in every sector.   Speaking about the relationships amongst the investors, they have good connections with our embassy and with each other. In particular, many of the elderly people and those who came from the armed struggle work hard to form good connections, as they understand the values.

As for the younger investors here, the connections are not as much, but we want to work hard in building it up through different organizations.It is not a stretch to say that Juba is standing strong through all the investments that the Eritreans have made.And with the new peaceful era that we are about to enter, I know for a fact that every Eritrean will seize the opportunity to work in their country when the time is right. We are working on a plan to allow every investor to get home and invest in Eritrea.

  • -What future plans does the Eritrean community in South Sudan have?

Our number one target is the youth. We are working hard to encourage the youth in South Sudan to join the YPFDJ. We understand that the youth are the backbone of the country. Every Eritrean is always ready to support the needs of the embassy.For that, I would like to extend my gratitude and respect.We also have a plan to build a statue here as a tribute to the Eritreans who have paid their lives here in South Sudan.

The Eritrean people didn’t only win against enemies, which they did for many years. This time, the Eritrean people are able to show case the free political line of Eritrea and assert the truth, which is irreversible.

  • -Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Is there anything you would like to say to the Eritrean community in South Sudan?

The Eritrean people have made unthinkable sacrifices to be here today. The future promises much brighter times, with the strong winds of peace blowing around our region. We all have to be prepared to work hard and use our time wisely.  Happy New Year to all Eritreans; 2019 will be a year of success!

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