Eritrea. A political upheaval in neighboring Ethiopia had
dramatic consequences for Eritrea during the year.
Ethiopia's new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sought dialogue on
the border conflict and war, which demanded tens of
thousands of lives on both sides. In June, Ethiopia accepted
the UN-supported Border Commission ruling that the disputed
city of Badme belongs to Eritrea.
Countryaah.com, Eritrea sent a delegation to Addis Ababa, and in July the
Ethiopian Prime Minister came to Asmera for a meeting with
President Isaias Afwerki. The two leaders embraced each
other and proclaimed that they chose love and forgiveness
instead of hate and violence. The result was a peace
agreement, which ended 20 years of war permits.
Diplomatic relations were normalized, telephone
connections were restored, and families split during the
outbreak of the war in 1998 were able to communicate again.
President Afwerki then traveled to Addis Ababa, where his
short route was bordered by thousands of Ethiopians. Afwerki
reopened the Eritrean embassy, which has been closed for
two decades. Later, Ethiopia also opened an embassy in
Asmera. Flights between the countries were resumed in
festive forms, where passengers on the first plane from
Addis Ababa to Asmera were served champagne, received roses
and were given the opportunity to dance to music.
Eritrea's approach to Ethiopia was followed in July by a
meeting of Eritrean and Somali presidents, which decided to
open embassies and reestablish diplomatic relations after 15
Eritrea promised that the country will continue to
support the Somali government in the conflict in the
neighboring country. Eritrea has faced UN sanctions accused
of supporting the Islamist militia al-Shabab, but Ethiopia
has now proposed to the UN that the sanctions be abolished.
In September, the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia was
opened in the war-torn area. Ethiopia promised to withdraw
the military from the border area. The two countries signed
another agreement to strengthen the ceasefire and security
in the region. Even with Djibouti, Eritrea agreed to ease
the tense relations.
Despite better neighborly relations, the regime continued
to crack down on all signs of opposition. In September,
former finance minister Berhane Abrehe was arrested after
publishing a book criticizing the regime. Amnesty
International demanded that he be released.
When the regime's oppression of dissent was motivated by
the country's waging war with Ethiopia, oppositionists in
exile hoped that peace would bring domestic political
liberalization. The UN Human Rights Reporter in Eritrea
called for clear and immediate measures to strengthen
respect for human rights and justice.
In September, it was announced that the army would be
reduced and military forced service changed. Labor can
instead be used in industry, infrastructure projects,
agriculture and self-employment, according to government
officials. The forced service in the army has been a major
reason why hundreds of thousands of Eritreans, mostly young,
have relocated the country in recent years.
In November, the UN Security Council decided to lift
close to 10 years of sanctions on Eritrea following the
country's peace treaty with Ethiopia and improved relations
with Djibouti. The arms embargo was lifted as well as travel
bans, and frozen assets abroad became available.