Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki Interview (February 17, 2021)
In an exclusive, two-hour, interview that was broadcast live on Eri-TV and Radio Dimtis Hafash at 8;00 pm this evening, President Isaias Afwerki elaborated at length the genesis and current situation of the conflict in Tigray Region in Ethiopia; the simmering border dispute between Sudan and Ethiopia, the controversy between key riparian States on the use of the waters of Nile River; and, Eritrea’s ties with its partners in the Gulf and Red Sea Region. President Isaias also addressed key domestic issues including Eritrea’s current preventive approach and road map for controlling the COVID-19 pandemic; GOE’s development priorities for 2021; programmes of expansion of the country’s power generation as well as progress in the implementation of salary increments in the Civil Service.
On the crisis in Ethiopia, President Isaias Afwerki highlighted the following salient points:
- That the Joint Agreement on Peace and Friendship signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 2018 had ushered in a new era of peace and optimism;
- Eritrea did not push for prompt implementation of the border decision stipulated in the Agreement as consolidation of the peace process was its utmost priority;
- On the contrary, the TPLF regime, which had used the border dispute as a trump card for incessant destabilization, went into commotion and ramped up its war preparations;
- That President Isaias had expressly asked Debretzion, Acting President of the Tigray Region – in the brief meeting in Omhager, why the TPLF was making huge preparations for a senseless war.
- Against this backdrop, nobody imagined that the TPLF would resort to such an unprecedented reckless move to attack the Northern Command of the Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF) in early November. This was inexplicable and mind-boggling but borne out of miscalculation as is often the case with wars;
- TPLF plan was to neutralize the 32,000 Contingent – one-third of which were Tigrayans – and topple the Federal Government. Part of this plan was the subsequent invasion of Eritrea;
- TPLF historic blunder was rooted in its policy of ethnic polarization enshrined in its 1994 Constitution. The plan was to sow the seeds – plant landmines as it were – for interminable division and conflict in Ethiopia. Events in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, etc demonstrate the perils of policies rooted in ethnic and religious polarization.
- Eritrea has learned this bitter lesson from its history of division during the British Military Administration (BMA) in the 1940s and the early years of armed struggle;
- For Eritrea, the creation of a conducive regional environment is not a matter of choice but an obligation.
In regard to the simmering border dispute between the Sudan and Ethiopia, President Isaias underlined that any conflict will only jeopardize the welfare and interests of both peoples and countries when they are grappling with critical challenges at this juncture of political transitions underway in the two countries. On the Nile River, President Isaias elaborated on the historical genesis of the dispute, current realities on the ground, future mutual benefits to the populations of Ethiopia, the Sudan and Egypt and the need and urgency to find technical solutions that take into account all these parameters and that are not based on zero-sum calculus.
On relations with the Gulf and Red Sea littoral States, President Isaias stressed the need for cultivating consensus on an appropriate framework that can enhance and guarantee effective cooperation of all the countries on economic and security sectors.
President Isaias also addressed fully the domestic issues that were raised.