Asmaro(Mogadishu24)-The Eritrean government announced on Monday the suspension of official maritime bilateral talks to grant landlocked Ethiopia access to the sea.

In an official statement released by the Ministry of Information, the Eritrean government stated that discussions regarding the sea issue have become overly extensive.

“Discourses – both actual and presumed – on water, access to the sea, and related topics floated in the recent times are numerous and excessive indeed. The affair has perplexed all concerned observers,” the statement from Eritrea’s ministry of information read.

The Eritrean government has affirmed that it will not engage in discussions related to sea access and has urged the parties involved not to respond in a way that escalates the situation.

“In the event, the Government of Eritrea repeatedly reiterates that it will not, as ever, be drawn into such alleys and platforms. The Government of Eritrea further urges all concerned not to be provoked by these events,” the statement added.

This statement came a week after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed claimed that Ethiopia, being the most populous East African country, has the right to access the sea by any means.

He stated that access to the sea is “an existential matter for Ethiopia” and that Ethiopians should start discussing the Red Sea.

“If we don’t talk about the Red Sea issues, we will as much not talk about wheat, green legacy, tax collection…[if we have accomplished all these] and lose it due to [not discussing] the Red Sea, it’s meaningless. So let’s discuss it” said Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia Prime Minister.

The prime minister’s remarks sparked heated debates and speculations over the weekend among online communities in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea.

The Ethiopian government also asserted its control over parts of northern Somalia, particularly the Saylac region, during the pre-colonial period, claiming access to the sea through this region.

Prof. Ahmed Ismail Samatar, a prominent Somali politician and analyst, highlighted Ethiopia’s territorial ambitions, stating that the Ethiopian government seeks to extend its land into parts of Eritrea, Somalia, and Djibouti.

“During the pre-colonial period, Ethiopia maintained close relations with the British colonies that had colonized Somaliland. In discussions between Ethiopia and the colonies, Ethiopia wanted to claim control over parts of Somalia, Eritrea, Sudan, and Djibouti. This claim was primarily motivated by greed to expand its territory, but it wasn’t possible,” stated Professor Ahmed Ismail Samatar.

He revealed that Ethiopia was granted a 15% stake in Berbera ports, but they couldn’t pay the money, leading Somaliland to cancel the deal.

“Ethiopia was offered a 15% stake by the Somaliland government to manage the Berbera Ports. This stake represented only a shareholder percentage in accessing and operating the port, not a claim to land or territory. The Ethiopian government failed to fulfil its financial obligations for the stake, and Somaliland had to cancel the deal,” added Professor Samatar.

Ethiopia has recently increased its involvement in regional issues, focusing on signing agreements with its neighbouring countries to access natural resources like the sea.

Earlier this month, finance ministers from Horn of African countries approved the completion of the Djibouti-Addis corridor, which will cost $750 million, during the 18th Horn of Africa Initiative ministerial meeting held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Ethiopia, along with Djibouti, South Sudan, and Uganda, signed an agreement on the finalization of the Djibouti-Addis-Juba-Kampala corridor during the 9th Single Window Conference held in Djibouti last month.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *