Ethiopia and Eritrea are no longer at war, the neighbours said in a joint statement Monday, a day after their leaders held a historic meeting in Asmara.
Quoting from a “Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship,” Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Gebremeskel said on Twitter the “state of war that existed between the two countries has come to an end. A new era of peace and friendship has been ushered (in).”
“Both countries will work to promote close cooperation in political, economic, social, cultural and security areas,” Yemane added.
He said the agreement was signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afeworki on Monday morning at state house in Asmara.
Images of the ceremony showed the two men sharing a wooden desk, backed by their nations’ flags, as they simultaneously signed the document.
ABOVE: Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed welcomes Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and his delegation
The declaration echoed comments made by Abiy at a dinner hosted by Isaias late Sunday, where he said diplomatic, trade, transport and communications ties would be re-established and borders reopened.
Recent weeks of rapid rapprochement are aimed at ending decades of animosity, periods of outright conflict and many years of cold war between the two countries.
The thaw began last month when Abiy said Ethiopia would abide by a 2002 UN-backed ruling, made after a two-year frontier war, and hand back disputed border territory, including the flashpoint town of Badme, to Eritrea.
History, geopolitics and internal political dynamics of both countries will determine the chances for peace between the two.
Eritrea, a former Ethiopian territory, gained independence in 1993 after three decades of a bitterly fought war.
The Ethiopian ruling party, and particularly the coalition member Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) have had a long love-hate affair with Eritrean liberation fighters.
After the fall of the Ethiopian military regime of Mengistu Hailemariam in 1991, both the TPLF and Eritrean rebels become part of government in their respective countries.
However, the separation was complicated. Post-war Eritrea, without viable economic resources, rushed to launch its own currency, the Nakfa.
At the time, Eritrea had plans to use Ethiopian resources to build the war-torn nation, including use of its currency, the Ethiopian Birr.
Decades later, Eritreans still control a significant portion of Ethiopian businesses.
The Eritrean security apparatus also had an underground operation in Ethiopia that enabled Asmara to interfere in the security and economic affairs of Ethiopia.
Early 1993, some political elites in the Ethiopian ruling party questioned Eritrea’s unfair advantage over Ethiopia and proposed a formal border arrangement, a trade agreement and a tariff.
Some pro-Eritrea politicians in Ethiopian ruling party resisted the plan. Due to this reason, later in 2001, the ruling party split in two camps after the end of the border war.
All the way from 1996-1998, the mistrust grew between the two countries, resulting in frequent border skirmishes.
In 1998-2000 a full-scale border war broke out that claimed an estimated 95,000 lives from both sides, although the number varies up to 130,000.
The US, the African Union and the UN mediated a ceasefire in Algiers and the two countries signed a peace accord in 2000.
In July 2000, the UN deployed 4,000 peacekeepers (United Nations Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia) on the common border for eight years but in 2008, Eritrea expelled the peacekeepers protesting against the UN’s failure to enforce the Algiers agreement.