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Ethiopia and Eritrea End 20-Year-Old Border War

The 20-year hostilities over a border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea officially came to an end on Monday. The New York Times reported that later in the day Monday, Ethiopia asked the United Nations to lift sanctions on Eritrea, which had imposed an arms embargo and a partial travel ban on Eritrea citing its border disputes with neighbors.

Mr. Guterres responded that the sanctions might “become obsolete.”

Eritrean Prime Minister and Ethiopia’s President Embrace at Eritrean Airport 

Eritrea used to be a part of Ethiopia but gained independence in 1993. Eritrea has a booming port, Assab, but its independence from Ethiopia made the latter landlocked. Ethiopia’s critical interest in Eritrea’s port Assab developed into a border conflict, and both countries soon sank into war. In order to gain access to the Red Sea, Ethiopia relied on a port in neighboring Djibouti.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was in Eritrea’s capital Asmara on Sunday. Abiy embraced Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki at the airport and received to a warm welcome in return. By Monday, both Abiy and Afwerki issued a joint statement declaring the war between Eritrea and Ethiopia over.

Mr. Abiy was one of thousands of Ethiopian soldiers who served in the war with Eritrea. When he was elected prime minister in April of 2018, he promised a multitude of reforms, including reaching out to Eritrea to solve the decades-old border dispute.

Mr. Abiy has lived up to his promises and in just a matter of months ended the war with Eritrea, released thousands of political prisoners, opened up state-owned monopolies to privatization, announced the intention to create an Ethiopian stock exchange and more. The reforms have made him popular in Ethiopia, but the more traditional politicians have accused him of doing too much too fast.

“Bridge of Love Has Destroyed” Any Supposed Borders between Eritrea and Ethiopia

“The state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has come to an end,” the leaders said in a joint declaration. “A new era of peace and friendship has been opened.”

In pursuance of the reconciliation between the neighboring countries, both Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to –

  • Resume airline flights
  • Collaborate on ports use
  • Reopen closed embassies
  • Freely engage in open trade
  • Exchange prisoners of war, and
  • Restore direct telephone lines

The New York Times reported that a “website linked to the Ethiopian government said that the East African neighbors would reopen embassies in the near future and that Ethiopia’s national airline would resume flights to Asmara next week.”

Both countries also said they would continue to work on establishing a mutually agreed on border and that negotiations were underway to exchange prisoners of war.

“There is no longer a border between Eritrea and Ethiopia because a bridge of love has destroyed it,” Mr. Abiy said.

UN Report: War, Violence and Persecution Displaced 68 Million People in 2017


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