The EU side was chaired by the EU Ambassador. In addition to the four EU Embassies residing in Asmara (France, Germany, Italy and Sweden), ten non-resident Member States Embassies joined via video link from Cairo, Khartoum and Nairobi (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain). The Eritrean Delegation was led by Yemane Gebreab, the President’s Political Advisor and included senior representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The meeting took place at a critical juncture as events are unfolding rapidly in Eritrea’s immediate neighbourhood, in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The rapidly escalating conflict and open warfare between federal forces and Tigray’s paramilitary troops carry serious risks to the larger region, including Eritrea. Another time-sensitive issue, figuring high in the discussions was the status of the eight development cooperation projects on the table, coordinated with the Eritrean Government and the relevant UN implementing agencies, agreed with Member States and funded from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. These projects cover a large array of areas from providing support to Eritrea’s health care system, to creation of jobs in agriculture, from improving road connectivity with Ethiopia to collaboration in implementing human rights’ commitments. Awaiting the Eritrean Government’s approval, these projects can bring clear benefits to Eritrea, to many communities within the country.
Beyond these highly time-critical issues, the discussion at the dialogue covered several issues of common interest, including ongoing efforts to contain Covid, advance the region’s integration, promote economic growth and create jobs and the respect for human rights. The Political Dialogue offered an important opportunity to provide an assessment in these areas, seek to acquire a better understanding of the Government’s vision and priorities for the years to come, and discuss opportunities for further EU-Eritrea cooperation.