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Translation from Italian Newspaper ‘Il Tempo’

Published on 04/05/2024

 Between Past and Future

In June, ministers from the Meloni government will be in Asmara to draw up the collaboration pact

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“From the point of view of justice, the opinion of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interests of the United States in the Red Sea Basin and world peace make it necessary that the country be linked with our ally Ethiopia.” The former American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles thus resolved the question of Eritrean Independence, for the pursuit of “prevalent geostrategic interests”, at the end of the 1940s, when the fate of Italy’s former colonies – and as a corollary Eritrea’s right to decolonization-was addressed by the United Nations. Almost eighty years later, small Eritrea has conducted its war of liberation for thirty years, in almost total isolation, against occupiers – whether monarchists or military dictators – supported transversely, among others by the United States and the USSR.

Today one of the most stable countries in Africa, strategically overlooking the Red Sea along its 1,200 kilometers of coastline, Eritrea does not look to the past with a rancorous and retrograde mentality, but is ready to take on the challenges of the global era.

Moreover, when its President Isaias Afwerki met our Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, for the first time in January, the discussion was all-rounded. From bilateral ties, to mutual cooperation and investment opportunities that this pristine land offers in the sectors of roads, railways, ports, cable transport, agriculture, innovation, fish resources, energy. Because still today the bond that unites us with Eritrea is extraordinary. Just a walk along the central street of Asmara, from the cathedral of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary, to the Cinema Roma make to realize this. It feels like a being in EUR, Sabaudia or Latina, surrounded by that rationalist architecture, still intact and preserved. “Eritrea remains an oasis of peace in a rather turbulent region, often tormented by religious fundamentalists or institutionalized ethnic polarity”, the Eritrean Minister of Information rightly recalled the other day, speaking from Asmara at Lumsa University (Libera Universita Maria SS. Assunta, often simply abbreviated as “LUMSA”). “This is thanks to its policies and cultural orientation”.

The memory of Italy, of all the good it has done remains strong and rooted. In culture, in religious practices, in buildings. Every day (weekdays) two masses in Italian, at 7 in the morning and at 5 in the afternoon, celebrated and attended in our language especially by Eritrean women and men. In addition, every time you travel from Asmara to Massawa, along the 110 kilometers of road that descends from 2,400 meters to sea level, alongside the narrow-gauge railway built by us Italians, whosoever accompanies you, is keen to remember, “You build it and the English took it away from us”. Eritrea yesterday and today, which tomorrow is preparing to sign important agreements with Italy. Also thanks to Ambassador Marco Mancini. Already starting from June, when one of our most important economic ministers will travel to that land to implement the Mattei Plan. Even here, in a society where Christianity of all denominations – Orthodox, Protestant, Catholic – and Islam have coexisted for centuries. Walking down Harnet Avenue makes you feel at home.

*Lumsa University

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