CrisisWatch Eritrea

Unchanged Situation

Authorities rejected Ethiopian PM’s calls for direct access to sea, laying bare deteriorating bilateral relations; govt continued to expand regional partnerships.

Asmara dismissed Abiy’s calls for negotiations over sea access. In audio released 13 Oct, Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed said that securing direct access to sea (Ethiopia has been landlocked since 1993 Eritrean independence) is vital for Ethiopia’s development and stressed historic links to Red Sea; he called for open discussions with neighbours about possible solutions and warned that Ethiopia’s lack of access was potential source of future conflict. Eritrea 16 Oct responded harshly, dismissing “excessive discourses” on water and sea access and emphasising that Asmara will not “be drawn into such alleys and platforms”. Response laid bare worsening relations between Addis and Asmara, with latter fearful that its larger neighbour may have territorial ambitions.

Eritrea continued to strengthen regional ties. Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud 8-9 Oct visited Asmara amid concerted Eritrean efforts to enhance bilateral relations. High-level delegation led by FM Osman Saleh 12 Oct travelled to Egypt to discuss Sudan conflict with Egypt’s FM Sameh Shoukry; delegation 14 Oct met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Meanwhile, delegation led by Ambassador Negasi Sengal 23-24 Oct attended Forum on China-Africa cooperation in Chinese capital Beijing.

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