Ethiopia, Eritrea: Border Opening Marks Another Milestone for the Former Enemies

2 MINS READSep 11, 2018 | 20:36 GMT
The Big Picture

The reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eritrea — bitter enemies until this year — continues to bear fruit. Normalizing ties between his government in Addis Ababa and the Eritrean government in Asmara is just one of the ambitious reforms Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has undertaken since coming to power in April.

Scenes of elation marked the reopening of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea on Sept. 11. According to reports, the roads at the Debay Sima-Burre checkpoint, near Eritrea's Assab port, and at the Serha-Zalambessa checkpoint now allow the flow of civilian traffic from one side of the border to the other for the first time in more than 20 years. The move is the latest step in Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's efforts, alongside his Eritrean counterpart, Isaias Afwerki, to normalize relations between their countries.

Since 1991, when Eritrea won its long-running war for independence from Ethiopia, the two countries have been bitter adversaries; in fact, they didn't declare their war over until just this year. But Abiy and Afwerki have steadily worked to heal their countries' divisions over the past few months, resuming commercial flight service, reopening embassies and making plans for development projects. On Sept. 10, an Ethiopian commercial ship docked at the Eritrean port of Massawa, another first in more than two decades.

Both sides appear intent to continue the trend as Ethiopian and Eritrean troops withdraw from the once-hostile border region. From there, economic integration will the be next step toward reconciliation. Each country has much to gain from cooperation, which will offer landlocked Ethiopia port access and Eritrea opportunities to draw in investment and normalize its international relations.

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