Vatican News Staff – Vatican City.
“First of all, I was impressed by this young Ethiopian Prime Minister who accepted the decision of the Border Commission unconditionally. This was key because Eritrea accepted it 16 years ago,” said the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archeparchy of Asmara, Menghesteab Tesfamariam. He was speaking with Vatican News on Wednesday.
Peace initiatives a miracle
The Archbishop added, “It is like a miracle after twenty years of ‘no war, no peace’ situation that has held us like hostages in a way. To hear this (Eritrean delegation in Addis Ababa), I think the people of Eritrea and the people in Ethiopia are overjoyed. The news itself was already something great,” he said.
On Tuesday, this week, a high-level Eritrean delegation arrived in Addis Ababa to a warm welcome led by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed himself. The Metropolitan Archbishop of Addis Ababa, Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel together with other senior Ethiopian religious leaders, Olympic athletes and musicians joined the Prime Minister at Addis Ababa’s Bole International Airport to receive the guests.
Opening the door of peace
The visit of the delegation from Asmara to Addis Ababa has been described as “opening the door of peace.”
Latest peace developments, started when Abiy Ahmed became Ethiopia’s Prime Minister in April. Abiy, Africa's youngest head of government at 42-years, has since launched extensive and fast-paced political and economic reforms. A vital part of this reform has been Abiy’s willingness to end the Ethio-Eritrean military standoff by handing over to Eritrea disputed territories that include the border town of Badme. If the hand/over occurs, it would comply with the terms of the Algiers Agreement of the year 2000.
Praise for Eritrean government
The Metropolitan Archbishop of Asmara praised the Eritrean government for sending a delegation to Ethiopia and described new peace efforts between Ethiopia and Eritrea as a miracle.
He told Vatican News that the Archdiocese of Asmara had since declared a week of prayer for the successful outcome of peace talks. He has at the same time, asked Eritreans in the diaspora to pray for peace.
Week-long prayers in the Archdiocese of Asmara
“In my Archdiocese of Asmara, we have declared this week as a week of prayer from last Sunday to the coming Sunday. That is what we can do as a people of faith,” Archbishop Menghesteab emphasised.
Reuters reports that Prime Minister Abiy has announced that Ethiopian Airlines would restart flights to Eritrea for the first time since 1998.
Amidst growing hopes for peace, there is also anxiety. The Ethiopian government is urging the public to remain vigilant at public gatherings in the wake of last Saturday's grenade attack at a rally attended by Prime Minister Abiy. Reuters quoted the Head of Ethiopia's Government Communication Affairs Office, Ahmed Shide, calling for vigilance.