Ethiopia and Eritrea Declare End of War
The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have signed a declaration saying that the state of war between the two countries is over.
A peace deal ending the 1998-1999 border conflict has never been fully implemented and there has been tension between the neighbours ever since.
The countries have also agreed to re-establish trade and diplomatic ties.
The declaration came at a landmark meeting between the two countries’ leaders in Eritrea’s capital, Asmara.
The summit between Eritrea’s President Isaias Afewerki and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed marked the first time the neighbours’ heads of state had met for nearly two decades.
Was this a surprise?
Yes. Although recent changes in Ethiopia have made it clear that relations could improve.
A peace deal signed in 2000 established a border commission that went on to rule that the town of Badme, the flashpoint for the conflict, was part of Eritrea. Ethiopia’s refusal to accept this meant that normal relations were never resumed and the two countries were in a state of “no war, no peace”.
The idea that Ethiopia would alter its position was unthinkable until recently. But things have changed very fast since Abiy Ahmed became prime minister in April.
As well as his overtures to Eritrea, Mr Abiy has lifted a state of emergency, freed political prisoners and announced economic reforms.
What did the leaders say?
On Monday, the leaders agreed that “a new era of peace & friendship has been ushered [in]”, Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Gebre Meskel said on Twitter.
Joint Declaration states, inter alia, i) State of war that existed between the two countries has come to an end. A new era of peace & friendship has been ushered; ii) Both countries will work to promote close cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural & security areas pic.twitter.com/B9arIZnsxa
— Yemane G. Meskel (@hawelti) July 9, 2018
Mr Abiy’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, tweeted that the two countries “are determined to close a costly chapter”.
#Ethiopia & #Eritrea are determined to close a costly chapter and eager to make up for lost opportunities putting the interest and aspirations of their people at the center. Upon the conclusion of HE PM Dr Abiy Ahmed visit in Asmara, the two parties agreed the following. 1/2
— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) July 9, 2018
1)State of war has come to an end;2)The 2 nations will forge close political,economic,social,cultural & security cooperation 3)Trade, economic&diplomatic ties will resume,4)The boundary decision will be implemented,5)Both nations will work on regional peace #Ethiopia #Eritrea 2/2
— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) July 9, 2018
What are people saying about it?
Mr Abiy’s surprise visit to Asmara, that began on Sunday, was hailed as historic.
Asmara resident Mela Gebre Medhin said on Twitter that she had “goosebumps” thinking about what happened.
An amazing day, I still have goosebumps remembering it. This is History in the making. The doors towards peace are finally opening up. A new chapter begins for the people of both countries and the region as a whole. #vision #peace #prosperity #HoA #Eritrea #Ethiopia #HornofAfrica pic.twitter.com/1lCx0td3Ea
— Mela G/Medhin (@Ertrawit) July 9, 2018
She also posted pictures on her Facebook page showing people turning out to greet the Ethiopian prime minister.
Others have been tweeting about the mood of “total jubilation”.
— Hizbawi Menghisteab (@HizbawiM) July 8, 2018
What else has been agreed?
The two leaders said the countries would improve political, economic and diplomatic ties.
Transport and telephone links will also be re-established.
This raises the possibility that families who have been divided by the conflict could finally be reunited.
The leaders also agreed to “work together to guarantee regional peace, development and cooperation”, according to Mr Yemane.
What has to happen now?
While this has opened the door for peace there is still a “long way to go to achieve lasting peace”, Asmara resident Ms Mela told the BBC .
The key question is what will happen at the border.
In June, there were protests in Ethiopia near the border when the prime minister first said that Badme could become part of Eritrea.
The BBC’s Emmanuel Igunza in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa says it is not clear when Ethiopian troops will withdraw from the disputed territories.