June 4, 2011

Foreign Ministry Counts Diplomatic Achievements

by Seare Habtemichael | It was around mid morning of the 16th May of the present year – the sky turned dark as a heavy cloud hanged from above the heavens of Asmara. Perhaps it was the potential source of the light shower of rain in the late morning of that specific day.

Around 8 a.m., I together with a group of reporters packed our things up and headed our way to the southern section of the capital. We were assigned to cover the symposium of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea that took place from the 16th to the 18th of the month of May in the glamorous international hotel that is standing high on the roadside of Asmara International Airport, just across Sembel Housing Complex.

It was the week of preparation for the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the liberation of the people of Eritrea from Ethiopian colonialism, and thus the capital of the country, more than anytime else, was strikingly decorated with dazzling screens displaying photos of the country’s diverse, yet colorful culture and ethnic groups. To add more color, fl ags of various sizes fl attered to dance in the gentle wind, from the charismatic villas and palaces of Art Deco of the 1930s, Benito Mussolini’s shortlived Second Roman Empire’s modernistic creativity. As we weaved along the avenues of Teravollo in a red coaster minibus just following a white dotted line tracing the street, a certain memory struck my mind. Looking at the countless fl ags waving along the streets took my memory back to May 28, 1993.

I was reminded of when my friends and I hungrily expected to see the colors of the New Eritrea fl ag on TV. As when it was raising to the just pole in the United Nations Head Quarters, I imagined the pride Eritreans felt to tell about the details of the fl ag to those who missed that unique raising occasion. I also remember when, now and again, I together with my elementary school friends drew the picture of the fl ag with the color pencils and shout at one another. Yet, that moment, we had no knowledge of the meaning of the colors of the fl ag; nor did we know the price paid for that fl ag. I stopped from my memory only when I sensed a welcome of the refreshing medical perfume of the Eucalyptus grooves that are tirelessly dancing on the western chunk of the Expo grounds. No need for breakfast, once enjoying that medication, I felt tremendously fulfi lled. Not long, our minibus joined the large number of diplomatic cars that were parked around the hotel.

After a moment, we would join a large number of ladies and gentlemen dressed, dominantly, in black suits The friendly mode of exchanging smiles and hags of the diplomats in the corridors of the shining hotel added extra fl avor of medication. A couple of minutes or so after, they would fl ock towards a cool yet majestic hall of the Asmara Palace Hotel. Soon, guests of honor, members of the diplomatic corps religious leaders, and senior military offi cials reserved their respective seats. A moment later, the Minister of Foreign Afairs, Mr Osman Saleh, accompanied by ministers, regional administrators, PFDJ offi cials joined them. After a couple of minutes welcome message by a moderator Mr. Osman took over the stage, welcomed the guests, praised for the interest of the audience, and forwarded a brief speech on the vision, objectives, tasks and programs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the achievements of the ministry in the past 20 independence years.

In his speech, Mr. Osman, fi rst, correlated the country’s 20 years of challenges and resolute resistance with the vision of the Eritrean Foreign Affairs. In this regard, he highlighted that the foreign policy of the country is based on the vision of “living in peace and harmony with its neighbors, to contribute towards regional and international peace, security, and development according to its capacity, and be a respected member of the international community.” As a matter of fact, according to the minister, Eritrea registered intensive achievements in securing a healthy regional relations, peace, stability, and cooperation in the past independence years based on independent political line. He then again said that the main objective of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is “to create a harmonious regional and international environment through ideal co-operative relations”.

Thus, on an attempt to advance its objectives, the ministry, in the past couple of decades, “has been making necessary adjustments in its structure to implement its policy Continued From Page 2 that would guarantee its national security and interest to serve its national development programs.” Surprisingly, one may expect the programs of the ministry restricted merely to politics and diplomatic activities. According to the minister, however, the ministry is engaged in the economic, cultural, and scientifi c areas as well. For that purpose, it has been jointly working with the concerned government institutions and organs as well as with the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice of the country. Not only this, the task and achievements of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appears to be vast, but then it seems worth going over the main ones for a better communication.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Eritrea discussed, among others, the efforts of the ministry to creating ideal regional and international environment; developing economic cooperation and partnership by ways of trade and investment; defending for the true image of the government and country; and working for the rights and interests of the citizens in the Diaspora. Accordingly, the ministry has recorded an encouraging achievement amid major challenges, conspiracies and hostilities in the past 20 years. To mention some from the various ones, amid ups and downs, the ministry played a major role in the success of Eritrean referendum with the little fi nancial resource and human capacity available. What about the fi rm stand of the government of Eritrea on the nonaligned foreign policy in a situation of vast and complex pressures and hostilities directed against the young nation ever since the dawn of independence. Should we also mention the efforts the ministry has been doing to strengthen the role and signifi cance of Eritrea in securing regional peace and security both in the region as well as the world? More interestingly, remember the efforts that the ministry has been doing in defending for an independent and sovereign country amid concerted conspiracies.

The aforementioned achievements have been registered amid various and complex challenges including: unexpected hostilities from some of the country’s neighbors; fi nancial constraints in diplomatic representation, concerted attempts of isolation and defamation of the country, and conspiracies and sabotages conducted to disrupt the development programs of the country. According to Minister Osman, however, despite commendable achievements of the government in the past couple of decades, challenges still remain. Hence, the ministry’s future plan focuses in regaining the countries sovereign territory through legal means, strengthening bilateral regional and international relations; promoting regional peace and security, and encouraging trade and investment.

This is the summary of the fi rst day of the symposium but then by the time Minister Osman fi nished his speech, the moderator invited everybody to enjoy the exhibitions of the ministry. For me it was a fantastic moment— The picture I imagined prior to our arrival at the hotel was just there; the photo exhibition began just with the picture displaying the raising to a pole of the new Eritrean Flag at the United Nations Head Quarters for the fi rst time in history. The next two days of the symposium, we would learn a lot from the four papers that detailed Minister Osman’s speech. The papers focused in a variety of issues.

Ambassador Mahamoud Ali Hirui, director general of research and information in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discussed, comprehensively, the regional relations with countries, and organizations. Ambassador Fisehazion Petros, presented a paper related to international relations whereas Ambassador Hana discussed the role and contribution of Eritrean Diaspora. And Ambassador Negasi Sengal on his part presented a paper detailing institutionalization and human resource development. Photo: MOI Achives The fi rst Ertirea fl ag joining the United Nations

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