Eritrea–Ethiopia relations

Relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have been historically adversarial.[1] Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 after the Eritrean War of Independence, after which relations were cordial. Since independence Eritrea's relationship with Ethiopia was entirely political, especially in the resuscitation and expansion of IGAD's scope. However, the 1998 Eritrean–Ethiopian War marked a turning point, and their relationship became increasingly hostile.

Eritrea–Ethiopia relations
Map indicating locations of Eritrea and Ethiopia



Upon the selection of Abiy Ahmed as Ethiopian Prime Minister, a peace agreement was forged, and ties between the neighbouring countries were re-established on 9 July 2018.[2] The alliance between the two countries has been strengthened since then, with Eritrean troops reportedly assisting the Ethiopian Army in the Tigray Conflict in 2020.[3]

Diplomatic-political relations edit

History edit

While Ethiopia remained independent during the colonial conquests of Africa, Italy created a colony called Eritrea around Asmara in the 19th century. After World War II and Italy's defeat, Britain occupied Eritrea. Eritrea was then federated with Ethiopia in 1952 by the ratification of UN General Assembly Resolution 390, which ignored the independence desires of the Eritrean people.

In the late 1950s, Eritreans began organising an armed rebellion from their base in Cairo. In 1962, Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie unilaterally dissolved the federation and annexed Eritrea, triggering a war that would last three decades.

Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia through their war of independence (1961-1991). Eritrea's independence was formally recognised when it was admitted into the UN after a referendum in 1993.

In December 2000, Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace treaty ending their war and created a pair of binding judicial commissions, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission and the Eritrean-Ethiopian Claims Commission, to rule on their disputed border and related claims. In April 2002, The Commission[which?] released its decision (with a clarification in 2003).[4] Disagreements following the war have resulted in stalemate punctuated by periods of elevated tension and renewed threats of war.[5][6] Since these decisions Ethiopia has refused to permit the physical demarcation of the border while Eritrea insists the border must be demarcated as defined by the commission. Consequently, the Boundary Commission ruled boundary as virtually demarcated and effective.

Eritrea maintains a military force on its border with Ethiopia roughly equal in size to Ethiopia's force, which has required a general mobilization of a significant portion of the population.[7] Eritrea has viewed this border dispute as an existential threat to itself in particular and the African Union in general, because it deals with the supremacy of colonial boundaries in Africa.[8] Since the border conflict, Ethiopia no longer uses Eritrean ports for its trade.[9]

During the border conflict and since, Ethiopia has fostered militants against Eritrea (including ethnic separatists and religiously based organizations).[10] Eritrea has retaliated by hosting militant groups against Ethiopia as well. The United Nations Security Council argues that Eritrea and Ethiopia have expanded their dispute to a second theater, Somalia.[11]

In March 2012, Ethiopia attacked Eritrean army outposts along the border. Addis Ababa said the assault was in retaliation for the training and support given by Asmara to subversives while Eritrea said the U.S. had prior knowledge of the attack, an accusation denied by US officials.[12]

Abiy Ahmed premiership edit

At a summit on 8 July 2018 in Asmara, Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed pledged to restore diplomatic relations and open their borders to each other.[13] The next day, they signed a joint declaration formally ending the Eritrean–Ethiopian border conflict.[14][15] Another peace agreement was signed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on 16 September later that year.[16]

In September 2018, the increased close contacts of senior leadership in the Eritrea–Ethiopia relationship extended to the Tripartite Agreement that also included Somalia.[17] Martin Plaut suggested that during a January 2020 trilateral meeting and bilateral Eritrea–Ethiopia visits in 2020, the leaders of the three countries discussed plans for the Tigray War prior to its official start with the 4 November 2020 Northern Command attacks.[18]

Resident diplomatic missions edit

Societal and cultural relations edit

Ethiopian-Eritreans Community Organizations and the Habesha Community edit

Throughout the Ethiopian-Eritrean Diaspora, there have been many multi-ethnic and bi-national origin community organizations founded by and for Eritreans and Ethiopians to foster good relationships, promote and express cultural commonalities well before diplomatic ties between the two countries's governments were ever restored. A majority of these organizations are found on college/university campuses throughout the United States, Canada, and other parts of the Ethiopian-Eritrean Diaspora.[19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]

Country comparison edit

  Eritrea   Ethiopia
Coat of Arms    
Population 6081196 (2020 estimate) 117876227 (2021 estimate)
Area 117600 km2 (45400 sq mi) 1104300 km2 (426400 sq mi)
Population Density 51.7/km2 (20/sq mi) 106.7/km2 (41.2/sq mi)
Capital Asmara (pop. 963000) Addis Ababa (pop. 3384569)
Government Unitary one-party presidential republic Ethnofederalist (federal) parliamentary constitutional republic
Official language Tigrinya (de facto), Tigre, Saho, Afar, Bilen, Beja, Kunama, Nara, Arabic Amharic (de facto), Oromo, Tigrinya, Somali, Afar
Main religions 50-63% Christianity, 36-48% Islam, 1-2% other religions (2011) 43.8% Ethiopian Orthodox, 31.3% Islam, 22.8% P'ent'ay, 0.7% Catholic, 0.6% traditional faiths, 0.8% other religions (2010)
Ethnic groups 55% Tigrinya, 30% Tigre, 4% Saho, 2% Kunama, 2% Rashaida, 2% Bilen, 5% other (Afar, Beja, Nara) (2010 estimate) 34.6% Oromo, 27.1% Amhara, 6.2% Somali, 6.1% Tigrinya (Tigrayan), 4.0% Sidama, 2.5% Gurage, 19.5% other (2007 census)

References edit

  1. ^ "Ethiopia, Eritrea Accuse Each Other of Starting Border Fight". The New York Times. 14 June 2016. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Ethiopia and Eritrea peace agreement". BBC News. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  3. ^ "Tigray crisis: Eritrea's role in Ethiopian conflict". BBC News. 28 December 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Q&A: Horn's bitter border war". London: BBC. 7 December 2005. Retrieved 7 June 2006.
  5. ^ "Horn tensions trigger UN warning". London: BBC. 4 February 2004. Retrieved 7 June 2006.
  6. ^ "Horn border tense before deadline". London: BBC. 23 December 2005. Retrieved 7 June 2006.
  7. ^ "Army build-up near Horn frontier". London: BBC. 2 November 2005. Retrieved 7 June 2006.
  8. ^ "Eritrea warns Ethiopia on border". BBC News. 4 April 2003. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  9. ^ "Ethiopia rejects Eritrean ports". BBC News. 18 November 2002. Retrieved 1 February 2012.
  10. ^ "Eritrea Accuses Ethiopia of Border Attacks". VOA News. Voice of America. 27 December 2007. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2008.
  11. ^ Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1853 (2008). Monitoring Group on Somalia. 10 March 2010.
  12. ^ Clottey, Peter (18 May 2018). "Eritrean President Discusses Path to Development". Voice of America. Retrieved 8 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea hug and make up". CBC News. CBC. 8 July 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  14. ^ "Ethiopia's Abiy and Eritrea's Afewerki declare end of war". BBC News. 9 July 2018. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Ethiopia, Eritrea officially end war". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  16. ^ "Ethiopian, Eritrean leaders sign peace agreement in Jeddah". Reuters. 16 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia adopts 2020 joint plan". Fana Broadcasting Corporate. 27 January 2020. Archived from the original on 12 February 2021. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  18. ^ Plaut, Martin (23 January 2021). "What are the war aims of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia in Tigray?". Eritrea Hub. Archived from the original on 12 February 2021. Retrieved 12 February 2021.
  19. ^ Oliphant, S. M. (2015). The impact of social networks on the immigration experience of ethiopian women (Order No. 3705725). Available from Ethnic NewsWatch; ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (1691345929).
  20. ^ "Cultivating co-existence and community: The Eritrean and Ethiopian Students' Association". 20 February 2020.
  21. ^ "Habesha students strengthen cultural ties through community organization".
  22. ^ "Our favorite takeout in D.C. for nights when there's no chance we're cooking - The Washington Post". The Washington Post.
  23. ^ "Facebook's first Habesha reflects on her refugee roots". 21 November 2014.
  24. ^ "Habeshas around the globe mourn Nipsey Hussle: "It hit our community a different way"". 8 April 2019.
  25. ^ Diversity makes a differences. (2012, Feb). Northwest Asian Weekly. Available from ProQuest
  26. ^ Hoang, A. (2016, May 05). Habesha students strengthen cultural ties through community organization. University Wire. Available from ProQuest
  27. ^ Afeworki, N. G. (2018). Eritrean nationalism and the digital diaspora: Expanding diasporic networks via twitter (Order No. 10745022). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (2015164934).