Anticipation had been high throughout the week after the announcement that Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was to visit Eritrea and meet President Isaias Afwerki.
Flags are lining the main streets. Banners in English, Tigrinya, Amharic, and Oromiya are going up. There’s an air of excitement. What an interesting time to be in #Asmara. #Eritrea #Ethiopia pic.twitter.com/JhGdI0wse2
— Natalie E. Brown (@Gnatalie23) July 7, 2018
This is the first time the leaders of the two countries meet after nearly two decades. The PM was accompanied by the Speakers of Parliament and the House of Federation, Muferiat Kemal & Keira Ibrahim.
Update: PM #AbiyAhmed received a warm welcome upon arrival in #Asmara, #Eritrea. The PM is accompanied by the two powerful women in #Ethiopia: Muferiat Kemal & Keira Ibrahim, Speakers of Parliament & House of Federation, respectively, & FM Workneh Gebeyehu. Video @mahlet_mesfin pic.twitter.com/2vONk5QiFI
— Addis Standard (@addisstandard) July 8, 2018
The two countries had been at loggerheads since 1998 when a border war at Badme broke out. The peace process of 2000 did not bear any fruit, putting the two states at an impasse.
The airspace and communication between the two countries had been closed, meaning natives had to travel to either country through a third country and use third-party communication as they were unable to make direct calls.
Reports, however, indicate that Eritreans and Ethiopians are now able to make direct phone calls to each country.
The telephone line that connects Eritrea and Ethiopia is open now! It’s possible to make direct calls from Ethiopia to Eritrea and vice versa! Congratulations!
— Yared Asrat (@YaredALegesse) July 7, 2018
The recent announcement by PM Ahmed indicating that Ethiopia will honour the Algiers Agreement of 2000 was met with shock, surprise and even cynicism. It also paved way for the Eritrean delegation to visit Addis Ababa for discussions over the deal.
Before the visit by PM Ahmed, the streets of Asmara, Eritrean Capital was lined with Ethiopian and Eritrean flags.
— Hizbawi Menghisteab (@HizbawiM) July 7, 2018
It would be the first time in 20 years for the Ethiopian flag to fly at an official capacity in Eritrea.
The meeting between the two leaders will be broadcast by Eritrea’s national broadcaster.
Here they are!!!!!
— Naty Berhane Yifru (@Natberh) July 8, 2018
The visit is also believed to be one of the many that will see the two countries overcome years of mistrust and to chart a way towards peace.
HE PM Dr Abiy Ahmed has left to Eritrea, Asmara today to further deepen efforts to bring about lasting peace between the people of #Ethiopia & #Eritrea. Our two nations share a history & bond like no other. We can now overcome two decades of mistrust and move in a new direction.
— Fitsum Arega (@fitsumaregaa) July 8, 2018