Remarks of H.E. Osman Saleh
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Eritrea
at the Second Italy-Africa Forum Rome, 24-25 October 2018
Your Excellency Moavero Milanesi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Italy,
My Fellow African Ministers,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Let me begin by thanking Italy for organizing this important forum to promote Africa-Italy relations for the second time in this eternal city, Rome.
My brother and colleague, Workneh, the Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, and I have been asked to make some remarks on our experience of taking full responsibility and ownership of making peace.
Four months ago, Eritrea and Ethiopia gave themselves, their peoples, the Horn of Africa, Africa and the world, a pleasant surprise, the gift of peace and friendship. They decided that the conditions and the time were right to end a sad and abnormal chapter in their relations and go back to normalcy, over the years, many had offered to mediate between the two countries to no avail.
And when peace finally broke out, it did not require any mediation. The two countries did it on their own. Ethiopia accepted the Algiers Agreement unconditionally. Eritrea decided to send a delegation to Addis Ababa. A week later, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Eritrea and the Peace and Friendship Agreement between the two nations was signed.
Many think that the peace was preceded by protracted behind-the-scene negotiations. That was not the case. The first time that the two sides met and talked was when the Eritrean delegation landed in Addis Ababa. And it was not just a physical encounter. It was a meeting of minds.
Eritrea and Ethiopia have not just made peace. They have embarked on a partnership of complementarity and synergy, determined to make up for the lost time and opportunities. They are prioritizing joint interests, and investing in joint programs and projects. They have opened their common borders for the free movement of people and goods.
Eritrea and Ethiopia have not limited themselves to forging the closest of bilateral relations. They have embarked on jointly fostering a regional partnership. Already, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia have signed an Agreement on Comprehensive Cooperation in a tripartite summit in Asmara. They are determined to make it inclusive of the whole region. They need and welcome the contribution of all external partners, including, of course, Italy, which has long association with the region, as was underlined by the recent visit of Prime Minister Conte to Ethiopia and Eritrea.