Eritrea–United States relations - Wikipedia
Aug 4, California Republican Dana Rohrabacher wants US-Eritrean even meet the minimum standards of being in a relationship with us." The U.S. Jan 30, Ethiopia and Eritrea ceased business relations upon the commencement of Renewed access to the US market under the Africa Growth and. Jun 28, Eritrean asylum seekers are given temporary protection in Israel and are not deported, The center ignores other reports by the UN and the U.S. State Up to the state did not consider any applications for refugee status. . politics, Jerusalem affairs, international relations, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon.
With assistance from the Chinese, Ethiopia has expended billions on building its transportation corridor to Djibouti. However, for many regions in Ethiopia, Eritrean ports are closer. Increase in power infrastructure and opening of export markets.
By combining their respective sources of power, hydroelectric, wind and geothermal, Eritrean and Ethiopian consumers would benefit from lower costs and greater reliability of supply. Reduced power and transport costs would increase manufacturing investment in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. With its port access, Eritrea could also become a manufacturing hub, perhaps even adding strategic value to raw or semi-processed materials coming from Ethiopia.
InEritrea was deemed ineligible for market access benefits offered and while the impact was minimal at the time, Ethiopia has been able to substantially grow its exports to the US in the past five years. The normalization of political and economic relations with its neighbour would not in itself restore AGOA eligibility, but it would demonstrate progress toward that end. Increased convertibility of currencies.
Normalization of economic relations would allow the establishment of banking relations, now non-existent between the two countries. Return of the commercial sector. As a result of the border war, Ethiopian businesses were expelled from Eritrea and vice versa.
This bar has constrained companies from both countries to achieve scale. The answers to our questions were not in Geneva. To get closer to this mystery, I had to go to Eritrea. I decided to apply for a VISA to the closed country. I wrote a long letter to the Eritrean Ambassador in Stockholm and told him that I wanted to experience Eritrea. Neither write positively nor negatively, just doing my job.
The decision would take a long time. It was from the Eritrean Embassy, inviting me as one of the keynote speakers during an Eritrean festival for the loyalists. Already in the distance I could hear the buzzwords. It had been a rainy summer. As I rounded some bushes, I saw about people who had gathered to protest at the annual festival, arranged by organizations with close sympathies with the Eritrean state. Eritrean flags and banners fluttered in the wind. During the summer, the UN Refugee Agency had reported that more thanEritreans, or nine percent of the total population, had fled.
While I made my way across the muddy field, I thought that they probably wanted to test me, see if I dared to speak at this event. Behind a kilometer-long fence, on the actual festival grounds, a few thousand people had gathered.
On the other side of the fence stood about demonstrators. It kind of looked like a medieval battlefield. Men in yellow vests and two-way radios guarded the festival entrance. In front of them stood a paddy wagon.
Tumult had erupted as some of the demonstrators tried to storm the festival and had clashed with the festivalgoers and the police had to interfere. We demonstrated for your release from prison, and now you do this? Are you really going to talk for them? This festival is political in every way. Arranged by the only political party in Eritrea. They are using you. I also believe dialogue is important, but to what price? Not at the expense of my people.
Their two main incomes are the two-percent tax, and these kinds of festivals! For a second I hesitated. But sometimes you have to take advantage of an open door. My plan was to hold an uncompromising talk about the importance of journalism and freedom of speech. But I also believed they held the answers as to why Eritrea is the way it is. They were testing me, but I was also testing them.
I walked over to a tent, where the sound system was, grabbed the microphone in a tight grip and looked out over all the people.
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Behind them, the fence and a towering a circus inside the festival area. I recognized several of the faces in my audience from freedom of press events for Dawit Isaak.
Many of them wore scars on their bodies from torture and imprisonment. I wanted to tell them that I had applied for a VISA to visit Eritrea, and gotten an invitation to speak at the festival in response. But it was too soon. The aggressive mood had vanished. There are many imprisoned journalists in in Eritrea. Just when I was about to duck underneath the police tape, I saw Meron Estefanos, who stood, stone-faced, staring at the Eritrean flags. From an apartment in a Stockholm suburb, she works fulltime, reporting on Eritrea for the opposition radio station, Radio Erena.
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After the tragedy outside Lampedusa in OctoberMeron Estefanos caught the attention of the world, and she has been a link between the desperate refugees on the Mediterranean and the Italian Coast Guard for several years now.
Here Eritrean-Swedes had gathered from around the country. They had worked for several years, trying to outlaw the festival, by reminding the landowners that they are renting their property to a dictator, but so far nobody has responded to them.
The guard at the entrance had a firm handshake and wore a brassard of the Eritrean flag tightly tied to his upper arm. The rain had held off since last night and the muddy ground was slowly drying up. Once inside, a more festival-like mood took over; it was family-oriented, festive and sold-out. According to Fthawi Mehari, 5, people visit the festival every one of its four days.
There was a large tent for big lectures and meetings, a barn for the smaller ones and small tents for business meetings or for use by different Eritrean organizations were sprinkled throughout. In the middle of it all stood a clown, flown in from Eritrea, to entertain the little ones.
Despite the loud and festive alarum, the demonstrators on the outside could be heard. They have a right to stand there and protest, making life miserable for people who are entering the festival. You only hear what they yell in Swedish, but what they say in Tigrinya is even uglier, meaner.
They target women who walk by and say things that make people sick. But it is okay, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. As you can see, there are a lot of them here. But none of the journalists will mention the festival mood, they will stay over there by the fence. Those who are there [anti-regime] will get all the attention. It was already packed inside the large tent, and people of all ages sat tightly squeezed, shoulder-to-shoulder, on the wooden benches.
The sun was bright and I was wondering if my pictures would be visible on the screen. Behind it was an enormous Eritrean flag. I had met him once before when I submitted my visa application. His family lived in London and he was quite new at the job in Stockholm. While we were talking, more and more people poured into the tent. I declined on the spot. It would probably have been a great material for my story, but it felt like getting too close.
I saw how the incumbent presidential adviser, Yemane Gebreab, sat down close to the podium. He has a substantial influence over politics in Eritrea. I had passed the point of no return. Beforehand I had asked Johan to film my lecture so nothing could be edited out or changed. It was so quiet in the tent, you could have heard a pin drop. Both the organizers and I were nervous. But this time everything felt different. I saw how several people in the audience fished out their phones and began filming as I began speaking: When all the prisoners, hundreds of them, had been accounted for, the metal doors closed behind them again.
The first screams were always the worst, that scream before the first hit, and then toward the end, the prisoner had gone quiet. I told them about the realpolitik, about the Horn of Africa, about the situation in Ogaden. Then I showed a picture of Reeyot Alemu, a journalist who sat in the next cell over, and how she during many times in her year-old life had been faced with a choice.
She could have chosen a simple life. But her love for the truth, for Ethiopia, for her fellow humans and for journalism, inspired her to become one. She stayed and wrote. She showed what journalism should be, but all too often is not.
She paid the price for coming generations, a high price. She paid with her freedom. I saw how many in the audience nodded and took pictures with their phones. Representatives for governments will always say that the freedom of press has to be balanced against other values such as stability, economic growth and regional power balance.
But in countries where journalists are imprisoned, nobody is free. Then I explained what it means to get the attention as a prisoner of conscience. After Johan and I were released, we have often been asked if attention helps those who are imprisoned.
I would like to think that it is more important than bread and water. To know that you are deprived of your freedom for a good cause. It turned completely silent in the tent again. To target a journalist should be like barbecuing a panda. It should be a crime against humanity. It may sound bold and grandiose, and I am really not neutral in this question. Freedom of the press is the freedom upon which all other freedoms rest. Without the freedom for journalists to do their job, the world will turn mute.
As soon as I stopped, I looked at a forest of hands. Some people were so enthusiastic that they stood up. The first question came from the politicians in the first row. The questioner thanked me for my lecture, summarized what I had said and then wondered: Someone else asked why Swedish media and media in the rest of the world had such a skewed picture of Eritrea when Ethiopia got away with everything. The exchange at times got heated, but was straightforward. During a full 30 minutes we discussed the war against terrorism, the change in Swedish foreign policy, Olof Palme and Dawit Isaak.
All who asked questions were polite, well-informed, intellectual and reasonable. After the lecture, a man appeared out of the masses. I recognized him immediately. He told me not to stress. Just an hour earlier, I had received word about the interview. The night before, I had stayed up late and watched him getting fiercely attacked in interviews with the BBC, Chanel 4 and France I thought it must be a weird feeling to constantly be attacked. To every morning feel that world is against you. Johan slapped his palms together to synch the sound and recorded interview began rolling.
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When I asked him to tell me how one becomes a politician, he looked at me for a long time, suspiciously, through his glasses—as if he was calmly trying to figure out what cunning trap I had set for him. It was as if he thought the questions strange. Why would he as a person be interesting—when I was reporting about his nation? A dream that contained so much more than just freedom from Ethiopia. The improvements the country has managed and been recognized for, according to the UN, are regarding reduced maternal and infant mortality.
In it was This time the sole purpose was to visit the festival and now he was on his way home. Many African countries have not calibrated their attitude toward the West, while Europe views Africa as a problem area. I think all that needs to change.
After more than 5, days in prison—do you have any news about him? So far, I have not seen any efforts from the Swedish to discuss this. Would it be possible for a humanitarian solution in his case? In the case of Dawit the judicial is solid, but regardless of the solution, it is a solution the Eritrean government will come up with.
This is not an appropriate matter for diplomatic bargaining. Dawit Isaak is an Eritrean citizen and the Eritrean government has the mandate to find a solution to that problem. His imprisonment has been the main issue between our two nations for decades now.
When the war was the most intense between Eritrea and Ethiopia, he was a part of the movement. On the one hand, it was clear that they saw Dawit as part of the G group that called for reform of the country in the spring of On the other hand, both journalists and politicians have long sought for signs that he was alive—and what he just said was that he was treated well. So Dawit must be alive. Or, did I read too much into his response? The central parts of the report on torture, he rejected categorically.
They are imaginative portraits, copies of drawings rom a report made by Amnesty International in He denied the allegations about torture in the Army and compulsory military duty, too. But when it comes to military service, it used to be 18 months, but after the war broke out in and we had to defend ourselves against a strong military power, so many stayed in the army longer than they were supposed to.
The background to the restrictions of freedom of the press, the difficult situation in the country and military service, all according Yemame Gebreab, were connected to the war that broke out inand the still-unresolved border conflict with Ethiopia.
It would be foolish to rule out the break out of another war, but the best way to avoid war is focusing on development. Ethiopia wants us to focus on war. Ninety percent of the Army resources are used to develop the country. Why do they want to move on if they are fleeing for their lives and have already crossed the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean? We are trying to foster a social environment and quality of life to make the youth want to stay in Eritrea.
The fact that Sweden gave political asylum to all Eritreans applying, he cited as the main reason for the many refugees. The mood was worsening already. But I had hardly finished the sentence before I was challenged. For the first time during our interview, he was visibly irritated. There went my VISA, I thought, trying to calm things down by asking open-ended questions about the future, which was described as bright.