Eritrean president Isayas Afeworki is in Ethiopia as period of “no-peace no war” relation between Eritrea and Ethiopia give way to peaceful relation. Lemma Megersa presented the president with a horse and shield
The security situation in Addis Ababa is entirely different from the one in Asmara. That explains heavy presence of paratroopers at Bole international airport as Eritrean president Isayas Afeworki was arriving this morning for the first time in nearly two decades – a phenomenon which political analysts describe as a breakthrough not just in terms of political relation between Ethiopia and Eritrea, countries that share so much including blood relation, but for the security of the horn of Africa as well. His visit to Ethiopia came just a week after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed paid a visit to Asmara where he was warmly welcomed.
Abiy Ahmed, members of his government and other Ethiopian dignitaries including Lema Megersa, president of Oromo region of Ethiopia who later presented Eritrean president with a horse and shield at the National palace, were waiting at the airport as the jet carrying Isayas Afeworki touches down in Addis Ababa. The gifts he got from Lemma are treasured in Ethiopia and in Eritrea too, as they are considered symbols of Ethiopian warriors. In fact there are Ethiopians who seem to see traits of Ethiopian warriors in the personalities of Eritrea’s selfless leader.
Residents of Addis Ababa also took to the street to cheer the president as he was being driven from Bole international airport to the national palace in the heart of the city.
“Today is a historic day. Our love is sincere and from the heart. Here after the people of Eritrea and the people of Ethiopia is one. We thank for the warm welcome and hospitality” said Eritrean president in his speech at the National palace.
The two countries have already signed agreements to leave behind the bitterness that followed the deadly two years war between 1998 and 2000, pursue peace instead and vowed to cooperate politically, economically and otherwise.
Direct telephone line between Eritrea and Ethiopia is restored. African’s largest airline, Ethiopian Airlines, will resume flight to Asmara starting July 18, according to Ethiopian Airlines officials.
Isayas is in Ethiopia for a three days visit and he is scheduled to visit Hawassa Industrial Park in Southern Ethiopia. He is also expected to attend a concert organized at the Millennium Hall in the capital, which is organized to honour his visit to Ethiopia, and the event will attract more than twenty five thousand people. Prominent Ethiopian artists including Mahmod Ahmed will perform at the event.
Division between “never forget” and “Forgive but not forget”
As much as there are Ethiopians who admire the personalities and fortitude of Eritrean president and welcoming, there are those who tend to see him rather as “a sworn enemy of Ethiopia.” These groups dwell on “never forget” creed. They point to not just the fact that his rebel organization Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), which is the predecessor of the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice, supported and nurtured Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF) which many Ethiopians refer to as a deadly enemy for the survival of Ethiopia on grounds of ethnic ideology it sought to perpetuate in Ethiopia as a playing card for power politics and on grounds of its perception of Ethiopian history.
And then there are those Ethiopians, seemingly majority, for whom forgiveness is more important rather dwelling on grudges not only for reasons of political expediency but also from the point of view of conflict resolution.
Ideologies of organizations like EPLF and political beliefs of its strong leader, Isayas Afeworki, were formed at a young age and in the context of revolutionary movements in the world, and Africa too, in the 1960’s and 1970’s. They goes on to argue that leaders like Isayas have lived long enough to learn that the “difference” that appeared crucial in the past are rather illusions and irrelevant as they may not help the struggle to bring about social justice and economic development to the people of Eritrea. The leaders have learned through time that playing difference is irrational and undesirable while cooperation and unity is desirable both as an end in itself and as a means to an end.
What is clear, however, is that the idea of improving relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia has got a broad support base and there is optimism that the future is bright for the people of Ethiopia and the people of Eritrea if they keep on travelling along the path to cooperation and unity.
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