Ethio-Eritrea peace imperative to Horn’s stability, economic integration

12 Jul 2018

In a move that created huge public euphoria both at home and in Eritrea, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) and Eritrean President Isias Afewrki reached agreement to end two decades of diplomatic and armed conflict, a move which many believe would have significant implications for the peace and stability of the turbulent Horn Africa.
As the saying goes, ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel,’ Fitsum Arega, Chief of Staff of Ethiopian Prime Minister Office recently announced through his tweet that Prime Minister Abiy after his discussion with President Isaias confirmed the normalization of Ethio-Eritrea relations. Accordingly, the historic agreement will also see the opening of embassies, development of ports and resumption of flights by the two countries’ flag carriers.
While the agreement heralds a new chapter for the sisterly peoples of the two countries who share a common culture, language, and history, it, without a doubt, would also have greater positive implications for the peace and stability of the Horn of Africa.
In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to claim that the peace agreement would completely change the peace and stability and economic integration situations of the Horn to the better.
True, besides negatively affecting the lives of Ethiopians and Eritreans, the two decades state of war between Ethiopia and Eritrea has also been a major challenge in ensuring regional peace and stability.
First and for most, the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea has had a spillover effect in neighboring countries. For instance, Djibouti, which is a major regional partner of Ethiopia, has been engaged in a border dispute with Eritrea.
It is also possible to mention several cases to show that the conflict between the two countries has been a major challenge for the peace and stability of the Horn. To mention but a case, in the case of tumultuous Somalia, the two countries held opposing positions that challenged the regional effort of restoring stability in Somalia.
In a turbulent region like that of Horn Africa, it is not a blessing to have a polarized perspective regarding stability. The fact that the two countries reach peace agreement would enable them to have a common security stance. Sooner or later, Eritrea is expected to rejoin the regional block IGAD. This would help to come up with common security stance in the region that is advantageous to all.
That is why the African Union has said the normalization of relations between Ethiopia and Eritrea is a boost for peace and security in the Horn of Africa region and on the continent as a whole.
European Union has also issued a statement stating that “Breaking a twenty year old deadlock in bilateral relations, it raises unprecedented prospects for reconciliation and paves the way for enhanced regional cooperation and stability in the Horn of Africa.”
On the other hand, regional efforts to integrate economically have already started. And such a peace agreement would also further stimulate the regional economic integration ambition, which Ethiopia and its neighbors –, Djibouti, Sudan, Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia –have been pursuing through infrastructural development such as railway installation, road construction, power connectivity and joint port development. The peace agreement is also a boost to this economic integration ambition.
In general, the peace agreement between the two countries will have a positive impact on the horn of Africa both in terms of security and economically. It will help realize sustainable peace and stability and foster regional economic integration.

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