Spotlight: Rapprochement in Horn of Africa fuels high expectations

Source: Xinhua| 2018-11-16 04:50:52|Editor: Liangyu
Video PlayerClose

ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) -- Countries in the Horn of Africa, once considered Africa's most restive region, have expressed high expectations amid an international recognition to the region's fast-evolving diplomatic rapprochement.

After the UN Security Council on Wednesday lifted a range of international sanctions against Eritrea, which include an arms embargo and other targeted sanctions, the global community has expressed high hopes and commitment to support the positive changes in the region.

The latest call was made by Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Thursday who welcomed the lifting of sanctions imposed on Eritrea and called for regional and international support as countries in the Horn of Africa presently embarked on the normalization of previously restrained ties.

Faki Mahamat, who encouraged the regional leaders to sustain the momentum by taking all steps required to deepen their cooperation and relations, also stressed that recent rapprochement of ties is in the pursuit of the shared objective of peace and prosperity of the continent.

"These developments are a major contribution to the African Union drive towards silencing the guns by 2020 and advancing continental integration in the context of Agenda 2063 (AU's 50-year continental development plan) flagship projects," the chairperson said.

Faki also expressed AU's readiness to assist this process in any way deemed appropriate, according to the statement of the pan-African bloc.

The Security Council Resolution 1907, which was passed in 2009, accused the Red Sea nation of fueling peace and security perils in the troubled Horn of Africa region, mainly an alleged support to the terrorist group al-Shabab insurgents in Somalia. It also passed three other sanctions on Eritrea in three other resolutions from 2011 to 2013.

The Ethiopian government, which had been a major proponent of stiffer sanctions against its former regional arch-rival Eritrea for the past two decades, was the first to congratulate Eritrea on the lifting of sanctions, reiterating intention to build on recent diplomatic successes for further regional stability and integration.

"The lifting of sanctions will further enhance the collaborative gains that have been achieved in the region over the last few months," the Ethiopian Prime Minister's Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It will have far-reaching effects in improving the stability of the Horn of Africa region and in building a lasting peace and normalization of relations among the countries in the region," the statement read.

"It is a significant step towards deepening the economic, social and cultural ties the sisterly nations of Ethiopia and Eritrea enjoy," the statement reads.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo, who welcomed the lifting of arms and other targeted embargoes on his country's former regional rival, also said that the lifting of sanctions was a result of "our collective request."

Noting the UN Security Council's decision as a "helpful and timely intervention," Farmajo also reiterated that the Horn of Africa region is swiftly progressing towards partnership and economic cooperation."

Eritrea's Minister of Information Yemane Gebremeskel also hailed the contribution from regional neighboring countries towards the lifting of the sanctions.

"The government of Eritrea expresses its gratitude to all friends of Eritrea who added their moral weight, and contributed in different ways, to the lifting of the ignominious sanction," Gebremeskel said in a statement that followed the council's decision.

"Eritrea as a nation is committed to working with all its neighbors. The peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, and the tripartite agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, mark the beginning of a new dawn," said Amanuel Giorgio, Eritrean Permanent Representative to the UN.

The lifting of sanctions on Wednesday followed series of meeting and partnership agreements that mainly involved Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti.

After decades of hostility and rivalry, a recent thaw in relations between the three Horn of Africa nations of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia is considered a new beginning towards normalizing diplomatic relations in the troubled region.

Eritrea and Somalia, which have been blaming each other for supporting rebel and terrorist groups, had recently commenced diplomatic relations, marking a new beginning among the two countries.

Recent positive developments between Ethiopia and Eritrea also came after two decades of bitter armed standoff since the two countries' bloody two-year border war from 1998-2000, that killed an estimated 70,000 people from both sides.

Countries such as China and United Kingdom also on Wednesday called for support to the region as the sanctions on Eritrea were lifted.

Chinese Permanent Representative to the UN, Ma Zhaoxu, on Wednesday called on the Security Council and international community to provide assistance to the countries in the Horn of Africa.

Ma said that the relations between countries in the Horn of Africa have been continually improving over past few months.

Noting that the lifting of sanctions is conducive to the peace and development in the region, Ma also pledged that China will continue to work with the international community to play a constructive role in achieving peace, stability and development for the countries in the Horn of Africa.

The UK, which chaired the drafting process of the resolution to lift sanctions, said via its Ambassador to the UN Karen Pierce that the resolution recognizes improvements in regional peace and security.