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HomeEthiopian NewsEthiopian intellectuals plan to meet Eritrean authorities,including Isayas,to promote unity

Ethiopian intellectuals plan to meet Eritrean authorities,including Isayas,to promote unity

Will Eritrean authorities nod to Ethiopian government-backed effort to promote relation between Eritreans and Ethiopians? But is there even a problem between Eritreans and Ethiopians?

Eritrean - Ethiopian Intellectuals  meeting in Addis Ababa
Photo credit : The Ethiopian Reporter

Ethiopian News
November 23,2017

Just two days ago, news of Ethiopian government working on new foreign policy as it relates to Eritrean situation was reported by Ethiopian news sources including this website.

As it turns out, an interest group based in Addis Ababa seem to be planning to turn around the tide so as to promote what they called “people to people relation” between Ethiopians and Eritreans. The group is composed of intellectuals and elders, according to The Ethiopian Reporter, who even seem to be determined to travel to Asmara to meet president Isayas Afeworki to promote the idea.

A meeting of intellectuals was held at Harmony hotel in Addis Ababa to discuss the issue.

Habtom Gebre Libanos, head of Harmony Events ( which organized the meeting) told The Ethiopian Reporter :

    “The objective of the discussion among intellectuals is to create a common understanding and to identify issues we need to work on in the future so as to facilitate working together [between Eritrean and Ethiopian intellectuals]”

The group, which is apparently organized by Harmony Events, has two step plans to bring Eritreans to Ethiopia for a discussion. In the first step, it will bring 200 Eritreans and in the second phase they will bring 400 Eritreans (including celebrities, artists, and elders) to organize “people to people conference and concerts.”

Ethiopian government expressed readiness to give free visas for Eritreans to come to Ethiopia for the project. Last week government permitted Eritreans to protest in Addis Ababa against the government in Eritrea.

Professor Medhane Tadesse presented a paper at the meeting and spoke to The Ethiopian Reporter. A translation of what he told to the news source reads

    “…efforts to reconcile Eritreans and Ethiopians are not coordinated which could be an obstacle to utilize their[Eritreans and Ethiopians] potential to tackle security and peace challenges and expose them to suffering at individual level”

Medhane emphasized the need to make history and culture of the two people open for discussion as it is crucially, he thinks, important to resolve the current impasse.

As well, he says that there is a plan to convince president Isayas Afeworki on the matter.

Already one hundred thousand Eritrean refugees live in Addis Ababa – which was once a cherished home for thousands of Eritreans before Tigray People Liberation Front government expelled them following the Ethio-Eritrean conflict which caused the loss of at least 100,000 lives on both sides.

The Irony is that Ethiopians were abused by the TPLF government and their patrols (some of whom are now emerging as interest groups to unite Eritreans and Ethiopians) when they claimed that Ethiopians and Eritreans are one people on grounds of culture, history and even blood relations.

Ethiopians have also opposed when the TPLF government decided to expel Eritreans, many of them were born and raised in Addis Ababa, from Ethiopia after the border conflict.

Now when the domestic and regional situations become security concerns for TPLF, it is pushing the “people to people relation” agenda to “reconcile” with Eritrea and Eritreans. Again the question is, was there any problem at all between Ethiopians and Eritreans as people? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
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  1. The first step is to recognize each other as indipendent countries and demarcate the boarder. The rest will come slowly, after the wounds heal

  2. We are all for peace and reconciliation. Approaching Eritrean president seems also to be a good idea. But other things might need to be cleared first, before trying to see him; such as in-principle agreement from the Ethiopian Government to finalize the order issue, in line with the Algiers Agreement.



  3. 1. I am among the two university students in whose mouse a pistol was literally put by two liberation gun men ( draw your own image) on the evening of the 1993 referendum just at the gate of national museum in Addis Ababa just for opposing the marvelous 99.8% outcome. The gunmen shouted at me ” thus will be done by force to timkihitegna…if not by ballot”. Back then Ethiopians were told it is not their business and told that “the rest of Canada didn’t vote when Quebec decided to succeed”. We were told it is now peace and the end of decades of colonization of Eritrea by Ethiopia..after “federation was disbanded” by an Ethiopian king ( note: we now know many Eritreans supported that path too). We were warned by our leaders any body who mention this “Eritrea – thing …mengedun cherq…..”. ……………So why now? who is responsible / accountable for all that happened to anyone since then, before we quickly change topic? What makes me and other serious Ethiopians sure our kids would not again get another gun in their mouth thirty years from now citing this quick “peace to people ” scheme as again another theory of “independence disbanded without Eritrean people knowing”?
    2. I do not think free riding is helping anyone….I don’t want to be represented in such kind of quick fix.
    3. If vitalizing Ethiopia – Eritrea relationship has to be raised, it should only be so if it is a burning concern to majority of Ethiopians. There should be a referendum in Ethiopia if we ever consider this as our issue.
    4. Today Ethiopia is a multi ethnic federal state. Representation of this ethnic diversity to the exact % population should be insured in any collected petition or committee. No body can simply gather and represent Ethiopian anymore. Personally I am not represented!
    5. I do not agree with the theory that current situation was caused by “the two governments” or party x or y. I know tremendous number of individuals have had consent on this path, few from Ethiopia , almost all from Eritrea. I at least remember the attitudes of my Asmara born college mates and few confused “Eritreans” that I now find in Addis. So no nonsense allocation of responsibility helps….truth sets free rather.
    6. The fact that Eritreans currently flock to Ethiopia doesn’t tell anything …..not least that Eritreans love Ethiopians. They love their life rather and it is ok. But this can’t be a cause for quickly resort to undignified path of putting Ethiopia at the begging and low leverage end, again! I do not support going to Eritrea representing me, as Ethiopian.
    7. I respect prof Medhane from the early 90s brave write up when no one of his kind was bold enough to call a spade a spade. Yet I do not think acquaintance of few individuals with Asmara automatically validates the idea or serves as a sufficient sample size to judge heart beat or represent consent of 100 million Ethiopians.
    8. I do not believe this initiative gives advantages to all Ethiopians. It instead gives unfair advantage to Eritreans again (note the previous history) given the present circumstance that dignified Ethiopians will not easily choose to travel to or even if so, benefit from whatever can be found in Eritrea. …Ethiopians hence expect dignified and principled relationship that targets all Ethiopians than a bogus interpretation of “kinship”…after all we have many ethnic identities shared with all our other neighbors too.
    9. I do not support any initiative that takes a path to systematically put Ethiopia paying port fee to Eritrea. That short cut wealth motto was actually the cause of all this misery. It also sets a bad preceedent to how we use natural resource in the rest of Ethiopia. (Tomorrow gunmen can “liberate” GERD and make the rest of us pay too). It is not fair , a mock on our intellect and will be deadly down the line!
    10. We are not in the 90s….Ethiopians also have other priorities …

  4. As Ethiopian I see Eritreans as a family divided by politics ,I believe there is no deep anti Eritrean sentiment unlike Tigrians, but why now TPLF need peace with Eritreans by any cost…? The only answer would be,TPLF need Eritreans to rescue him from current crisis.TPLF is hanged by short of hard currency, internal unrest,diminished foreign aid, the piggy bank rich man arrested, scared the outside influence spacially from Egypt and it’s puppet ethnic organizations are not as used to, the military is divided… so it’s time for TPLF begging the help of Eritrea. That would be its final card to play.

  5. As an Ethiopian I do not prejudice our sentiment towards Eritreans based on ethnic background of Ethiopians. I also do not claim to have data to generalize all the possible views of all Ethiopians. As I lived in Addis for more than all the good years of the new order though, I can only approximate popular views into few population segments with ages

    1. 0 to 15
    2. 15 to 26
    3. With ages between 27 and 40
    4. 40 to 52
    5. 52 to 80
    6. Above 80

    We can ignore number 1 for they are in completely in a different planet and those in 6 as they can either be in ailing health or only seek peace whichever way.

    Category 2 are generation born in the new order. They can be largely in school and do not know Eritrea or Eritreans unless their families have some memory or ties.

    Category 3 were toddlers when the new order kicks in in 1991. They may have some memories but may only understand things from the perspectives of what their parents told them or through the lens of badme war

    Category 4 were youth in 1991/93 ( same as the youth rocking Ethiopia now), and have full memory and understanding of what happened and possibly observed who did what…

    Category 5; either contributed to the current order in different forms or were grown up but remained helpless spectators. (I anticipate these , to bequeath the opportunity to dwell for others, as they seem to already have their big shot and failed?)

    The largest population segment in today’s Ethiopia is said to fall in category 1,23 and 4. For these Eritrea is a different country and they do not need to mention or be “anti Eritrean” or be in love with. In fact they see Eritrean refugees in their neighborhoods in thousands or in diaspora streets and , due to physical similarity, only know their background when the refugees choose to be identified as such and still doesn’t matter anyway. Besides dignified Ethiopian parents I lived with don’t have a culture of or teach their kids to discriminating “others”.

    Yet still for many of us , regardless of any sentiments, only principled and legal relationship endures long and sustains more challenge than arbitrary and emotional transcendence of sovereign lines, as these things costed all in the near past and will again have implication on resource allocation and opportunities too. It primarily needs full consent of the ever diverging Ethiopian views too. Relationship is not a mechanical good too, it has to be re-built over time.

    If and when Ethiopia and Eritrea choose to unite as one, these of course wouldn’t likely be issues again. But this path also needs for both the people to fully account historical issues for addressing matters like ; what exactly happened in history? What was the diversity of Eritrean views both in Ethiopia proper and the then province , as well as situations of people in those circumstances? Was it significantly different from what happens in the rest of Ethiopia? Was there not exaggeration? Was the “liberation” prescription accurately reflective of the problem sought to be addressed? Has the problem been addressed after the prescribed solution or was it over prescribed? What compelled this conversation to rush? What do Eritreans want from Ethiopia for a sustainable solution? More other questions for Ethiopian side too.

    No comment on “desperate x” and “savior y” debate as such approach further complicates coexistence even in Ethiopia.


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