Revisiting Ethio-Eritrean issues – Forum organizers in San Jose, California

March 30th, 2009 Print Print Email Email

On March 15, 2009—San Jose has hosted a discussion forum on the Ethio-Eritrean issues. The honorable invited guests on this topic were Professor Tesfatsion Medhanie from the University of Bremen, Germany and Professor Daniel Kendie from the University of Henderson in Arkansas, United States. Both scholars have written books on the Ethio-Eritrean issue. The meeting has driven lots of participants and it was a successful event. The Amharic version of what the first speaker, Professor Tesfatsion, presented to the audience will soon be posted on the Internet in its entirety.

In brief, his presentation focused on confederation as the framework for the closest relations possible between the two countries. He dwelt at length on the difference between confederation and federation. But even for this confederal union to be realized, there are some prerequisites. They include political changes in both Eritrea and Ethiopia; this means, among other things, that there have to be governments of national unity in both countries. Besides, there are also psychological barriers on the part of Eritreans as well as Ethiopians that have to be addressed. The elites of both countries have a big role to play in this regard. Professor Tesfatsion emphasized that if the peoples of both countries are satisfied with the process of the confederation, they can in the future voluntarily decide in favor of a closer relationship including federation.

Following that, Professor Daniel Kendie’s presentation focused on the role played by Egypt and other Arab-nations for the secession of Eritrea. He favors not only reinstating the Federal system to Eritrea but also to implement it in other Ethiopia’s sub-regions. In addition, he argued that a confederation allows two countries to sit side by side and is too weak to deal with major issues. Therefore, he stressed that a strong central government is a requirement. His vision of the federal structure also calls for the inclusion of Djibouti, Somalia, and perhaps Sudan.

The discussion was really very interesting and a milestone that brought both Ethiopians and Eritreans under one roof for discussions. On the other hand, both lecturers admitted that this vision may be supported by neither the current Eritrean nor Ethiopian governments. A democratic government is a prerequisite for its possible implementation. Therefore, one has to think beyond the era of the present regimes.

Professor Daniel also told participants that a meeting between Eritrean and Ethiopian intellectuals will be held in the coming days. It includes 15 participants on each side of the isle and he promised to inform us about its outcome. And finally, on the strength of Professor Danel’s recommendations, 3-people on each side were selected to facilitate at least social interactions between the two communities here in San Jose. It’s actually is the first of its kind since the 1998 major conflict between the two countries or even after the separations for that matter.

In sponsoring this discussion forum, we—the event organizes—strongly believe that we’ve brought this crucial issue to the forefront. At the same time, we also know that it’s highly controversial. But taking a step towards peace and reconciliation as well as developing vision is a historical obligation. Let other people take it from here.

Forum organizers in San Jose, California

  1. Yared
    | #1

    It is interesting and nice to see the two intellectuals to have engaged in such informative intellectual exchange, but to suggest that the two countries should consider federation is too far fetched and inconseivable by many Eritreans. While it is important and fruitful to have both countries to work together for betterment of the horn of Africa and their own people, IMHO, there won’t be any sort of unification of the two countries. 30 years of struggle for independence is not something that can easily be forfeited to the opinions of elites.

  2. Anonymous
    | #2

    good initiatitive. congratulations… warmly, mammo muchie

  3. Yonas
    | #3

    Good to see such initiatives that bring people to sit together and discuss issues of mutual concern. However I have fundamental questions here: First of all may we please know the nationality and background information of these two scholars. Secondly may we please get at least an insight on the composition of participants who attended the meeting. I ask this because I am doubtful if at all concerned Eritreans with right minds were present at all. My view is that, just like any other neighboring countries in the world, Eritrea and Ethiopia are two neighboring countries; each with its sovereignty and well defined border thanks to EEBC demarcation. So I wonder why talk of federation or confederation before we talk about legal matters that should be implemented to bring final rest to Ethiopia/Eritrea conflicts. I believe what we need most now is for both Ethiopia and Eritrea to accept all their legal responsibilities with regards to demarcation and compensation according to all the Algiers agreements. Only once this is done and people of both countries find the peace they deserve; followed by developments in democratic political administrations of both Ethiopia and Eritrea that we can start talking about deeper cooperation or common economy for these two neighboring countries. Otherwise, talking about federation/confederation as a blank cheque at this time is a miscarriage of justice not only for Eritreans who suffered a lot as enemies under Haileselassie and Derge regimes but also to the sacrifices made by Eritrean heroes in their 30 year struggle for an end of suffering of Eritreans and bring a sovereign Eritrea to reality.

    Let us first accept the reality that Eritrea is an independent, sovereign, and recognized country under the UN just like any other country; in order to have a firm foundation to sit down, talk, and bring better life for our people.

    Concerned Eritrean.
    Awet N’Hafash

  4. mateos
    | #4

    My friends! there is no enemity between the brotherly and sisterly people of Eritrea OTHER THAN THE SHORT SITED LEADERS OF ETHIOPIAN PEOPLE; however what is so sad after all is what LEGESSE AND HIS BOSS, BEREKET SIMON, ARE DOING TO THE WHOLE REGION IN THE NAME OF ETHIOPIA, DEVELOPMENT, DEMOCRACY, AND SO ON. I was a believer let by gones be by gones but what the mafia family are doing in the horn of Africa will cost Ethiopians for many generations to come. Ethiopia and the great Ethiopian civilization is fractured beyond recognition by the weyane family due to their aiga (jungle) law. Yes, Eritrea and Somalia might also be a victim of their adventure but Ethiopian will be the worst victims of mafia family!

  5. Getachew
    | #5

    Let the two intellectuals theorize and intellectualize!!!
    The reality is that Eritreans are never to be trusted again by Ethiopians. They wanted to secede, they seceded. To what? Are they still waiting to create the African Singapore? Good luck.
    In the 1920′s and early 1930′s , there was a movement in Italy to bring all the troops in Eritrea home because the Italians realized Eritrea would continue to be a burden to them. The Italians realized that without Ethiopia, Eritrea was useless to them.
    So much for history

  6. Abebe
    | #6

    Very interesting idea but I doubt any Eritrean in his right mind would propose any kind of confederation/federation with Ethiopia as long as the Ethio-Eritrean border is not officially closed. At least for the sake of Ethiopians since for Eritreans, whether supporters of Issayas or against; the border is demarcated and clearly there are two neighboring countries here. No Eritrean would come back to the situation ante after 30 years of struggle and suffering in the hands of successive Ethiopian governments. I suspect then none of the lectures are Eritrean (a woyane may be?).
    True, Eritreans are not against Ethiopian people, as well as Ethiopians are not against Eritrean people, although when you read posting by the majority of Ethiopians in their different websites it exudes hate and anger, and their only desire is the annexation of Assab, like Haile Selassie said “we don’t need the people, only the land”.
    Only one solution is possible between Eritrea and Ethiopia; economic collaboration in a mutual respect of each other as natural partners in the long run since fate put us next to each other

  7. gherezghiher kahsai
    | #7

    dear ideat as the so called professor fesehathion you dont belong to eritrea and prentanding as eritrean dont mislead the world.

  8. Yeg
    | #8

    Ethiopia and Eritrea separately from one another only eighteen years and fought a bitter war less than ten years ago. Both countries are led by leaders who fought long and devastating wars against the Derg and the recent war between themselves. The generation who fought these wars are still alive and have long memories.
    Also Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 1996, stayed there for two years and committed crimes against humanity in that country and still continues incursions across the border whenever she sees necessary. Somalis don’t feel now that Ethiopian occupation has ended let alone heal the wound and think about regional rapproachment of which Ethiopia is part of it.
    Sudan is in the brink of disintegration due to Darfur war and the probable resumption of Southern Sudan hostility.
    Djibouti, the smallest country of the Horn would definately be wary of being swallowed by its bigger neighbours and would feel comfortable and more secure under the French protection.
    Furthermore, all the these countries have enough problems of their own that can bring about their disintegration. And perhaps apart from Djibouti’s head of state, all the leaders of other Horn countries are good candidates for International Criminal Court’s prosecution for crimes they may have committed either against their own citizens or the other peoples of their neighbours.

    Against this background, one wonders what the professors were realistically getting at?. Their suggestion would seem to be akin to somebody trying to build a massive skyscrapper on a quicksand foundation.
    A better project would be to discourage an all out war between the countries, lessen the drums of hostility and incitment among the peoples of the Horn, encourage trade within and build regional civil societies and institutions where fruitful ideas can be exchanged, etc. In short, creat less antigonistic atmosphere in the region, pave a way that people, not political leaders, can get to know one another and choose to come close to and work with one another and find that after all they can be better off through dialogue and cooperation rather than settling everything through wars.

  9. Eritrean
    | #9

    Thank you!Professor Tesfatsion Medhanie for your convincing thought.
    I think Eritrea should confederation/federation with Ethiopia for
    the sake of the two brotherly people to have the lasting peace, they
    suffer enough already.

  10. Ethiopia
    | #10

    There is a saying in ethiopia “Anchew tamechew anchew taroechew”

  11. haile
    | #11

    this guy has his own dreem no eritreans trusted him at all he tried to join the gorela but he was not well come after that he creat his compain,he is frutless tree.the truth is as any ordinery eritrean still i beleave we all ethiopia and eritreas are brothers and sisters still i have a dream we will be one once again but i don’t trust this so called tesfation at all.he has mission behined.

  12. Harry Massele
    | #12

    I believe once these undemocratic leaders gone, the Ethiopian and Eritrean people will decide how to live and progress together. We lived before togheter, married and intermarried and lived in peace and tranquility. Our grandparents, parents fought for the unity and freedom Ethiopia from Eruopean Colonizers. The Eruopean colonizer tried to divided Ethiopia by ethincity, language, religion, etc., but our parents from Ethiopia, and Eritrea fought toghether to so we can live in Freedom. But these leaders, Afeworki, and Meles divided us good so that some of us have blined hatred towords eachother. Time will hill all ills and all will be forgotten when democracy comes to Ethiopian and Eritrean people. Most of us foundamentalist from both side stop the bashing. Long live Ethiopian and Eritrean people. By the way there is no boundry between Eritrea and Ethiopia. The boundry is Red See and Atlantic Ocan.

  13. Shaebia
    | #13

    No such thing as Eri-Ethio issues, just like the idea of confederation/federation! Eritrea is a sovereign country and will be till the world ceases to exist. Eritreans are always dedicated to peace and stability for the horn. The issue is if Ethiopia’s government is ready to accept peace and stability for the horn. Ethiopian government needs to understand that the Eritrea, Sudan, Somalia and Djibouti are all independent soverign nations. Eritrea wants to have a working relationship with Ethiopia, but will not do so until Ethiopia accepts the law and puts in place the EEBC ruling. Eritrea wishes prosperity and harmony for all its neighbors, but will not be bullied or forced into anything. Eritrean is a law abiding nation and it respects the rule of law.
    Ethiopia and Ethiopians DO NOT HAVE ANY RIGHTS TO ERITREA or WHAT HAPPENS OR GOES ON IN ERITREA!!!!! This is what Ethiopians have such a hard time accepting. Eritrea is not a puppet country for other super powers and Eritrea does not invade and commit genocide against its neighbors. Eritrea is not a tool for super power countries and genuinly cares for its neighbors. Eritrea is a supporter of self reliance and has shown it over the years. Perhaps these two clown professors can go back and learn their history. I think that these two so called professors need to work on professing how they can help Ethiopia and Ethiopians in this economic crisis. I also would like to recommend to all Ethiopians to stop assuming what Eritreans want and need, they have shown it to you. Please go and learn Eritrean history before you make such vile judgments and adjudications! It is obvious that the two professors are still using the old propaganda and that cost thousands of poor Ethiopians to die in every war with Eritrea. They need to focus on Ethipoian health, education, government and food security instead of pondering and waiting on things that will never exist. I found this whole thing to be amusing read though. I also found it amusing that Ethiopians actually can phantom such rediculios idioces, oh well we know who the joke is on though.

    Good day!!!
    Awet N’Hafash!!!

  14. Sewasew
    | #14

    You are correct in what you said about the current ethiopian government.It is equaly true that Eritrea is a sovereign country and will be till the end. You also said that Eritreans are always dedicated to peace and stability for the horn.Here is my point- then why don’t we start talking about the future of the horn? I am not saying government to government.It is PEOPLE TO PEOPLE.Tell me what wrongs did I make and i will tell you what should have been the best for the two peoples.The truth is that we have to live next to each other till the world ceases to exist.

  15. Getachew Reda
    | #15

    We understand why the Woyane TPLF and the Jebha EPLF are felt paranoia when the issue core of the matter to be solved is a must removal of the two idiots of the 21 Century. We know why they are crying. We know why they do not support such agenda. If the people take their own agenda and get genuine elites to show them the way out of such horrible, then our idiots of the century will be out of their warm chair where they feel comfortable killing and torturing without accountability to their crime. That is why their dogs are not comfortable with such new start. Cry or not, your bosses in Asmara and in Mekelle will be pulled over to the house of justice for power abuse and gun totting against peasants and school children and university students as a tyrant gangs of our century. I really do not understand how these idiots are worshiping these ignorant who went to forest spilling farmers blood just to get power and money. People those are people with neckties tainted wet human blood on their hand. I tell you, those who worship these ignorant of democracy as their leaders are silly and they made me sick to my stomach!

  16. sharki
    | #16

    As far as Eritrea or eritreans are concerned Tesfasion Medhanie is a trator and has no moral justification to speak on Ertreas matter. He can go to any Ethiopian form as he wishes but he better watch out. He can barck as loud as he can from his safe distance but there is no Ertirean who doesn’t know of his past deeds and he will pay in kind.

  17. sharki
    | #17

    Poor Getache Reda. I have been reading you for almost 6 years and never had a stand. At time you are petrait Ethiopian and when it suites you become conslatory. Hey, I love my dictator Kubur Issias Afewerki who has a gut to stand on principle than the sale out you have on Mineliks palace. Legese is pawn for the intereset of others. Please worry on mama Ethiopia who is siting on a ticking bomb for its fragmentation under leges aka Meles and Ghebrehiwet aka Bereket ethnic policy. If you have any wisdom left on you try advocating for the unity of Ethiopia. Leave Ertirea for Ertreans on your fiture writig.

  18. Hiwot
    | #18

    That was a good step.There is no difference between the two people.Same food,same clothes same hair do (the ladies) same language.Long live to Eritreans and Ethiopians!

  19. wolikati
    | #19

    What is the fuss about, half Ertrians are running to Ethiopia and the other half are waitng for an opportunity to run. Unless the people who run go back and declare they are Eritrians a bunch of Shbiya runing loss does not amount to noting.

    If they really want to be independnet they shoud take Berket and Melse out of Ethiopia and redeclare their indepndence.

    The rest is hot air

  20. MAMA
    | #20

    Eritrea is INDEPENDENT and a THRIVING NATION and a full fledged member of the UN like England, USA, Kenya and so on. Tesfatsion Medhanie has to say and try to pitch something different to get the attention of a few grant writers meanwhile one WARSAI as we call our youth in Eritrea can challenge him and then laugh at his intelect. It used to be that when Eritrea was under occupation people were forced to believe the lies but now Eritrea and Eritreans have emancipated themselves from Mental slavery. Meanwhile a majority of Ethiopians continue to be enslaved by the HANDFUL leaders who will have the entire region EAT THEM FOR DINNER once they are moved from power. Prof.Medhanie then will be an old man TRYING to BEG for forgivness for his CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY.

    FYI: Some of you Ethiopians please speak on behalf of your leaders. Leave Eritrea’s leadership to the Eritrean people. They care about us first and they have changed our lives in a great way since the days when our women’s breasts use to be chopped off and our kids and fathers were hanged for being ERITREANS. Like the Ethiopian quote says “YEWEGA BIRESA, YETEWEGA AYRESAM” not bad for an Eritrean what da ya say? Anywhoooo Eritrea is fine and all we ask is for Ethiopians to leave peacefully side by side next to us without interference in our internal policies.

    Just watch out for the TIGRAI minority leaders who will do anything it takes to stay in power. Eritrea can fend for herself but majority of Ethiopians need to “GET UP, STAND UP” and “NOT TO GIVE UP THE FIGHT against the GENOCIDE COMMITING MEAT HEADS in power today.


  21. Sewasew
    | #21


    I am glad that you Eritreans are happy with your leaders and are enjoying freedom. I also admire your achievements after decades of war- good for you. But we are not free and we don’t until we over through woyane for good. Now, the ideas and suggestions about federalism don’t have to do with what you said. It is about tomorrow when peace and democracy prevails and every nation establishes the kind of governance of their choice and elect the leaders that are capable and accountable to their own people Then we can start talking about our border issues, economic cooperation, trade and why not Confederation. If we don’t agree, which I think is unlikely, and then we live in peace next to each other until the end of the world. Respect each others desires and territorial integrity but no more war.

  22. Sharki
    | #22

    Good job I like your view keep it up!

  23. Getachew Reda
    | #23

    Poor Sharki- You can love your Issayas, for killing thousands of thousands of Eritreans, but do not think for a moment that you are not only naive, but a sick individuals who praise a person who have no respect for human life. You simply were jabbering not debating. How can you love a person who led his life by killing? Do you have families in Eritrea? What did they tell you when you asked them? I am sure you do not care if they inform you. This is because YOU ARE iSAYAS MADE TOY. It IS HARD TO CONVIENCE PEOPLE LIKE YOU, YOUR NATURAL MIND IS NOT FUNCTIONING TO RATIONALIZE SITUATION, BECAUSE YOU ARE SET TO SERVE AND PRAISE TYRANT. A HOUSE SLAVE IS A DANGEROUS MAN KIND TO CONVEINCE. I AM NOT SURPRISE TO SEE A FELLOW WHO PRAISES ISSAYAS, BECAUSE Issayas survive his life killing people, because there are carless individuals who can also volunteer to kill their parents and families for tyrants as an EPLF cult. But, we pray for the poor peasants who are forced to give their children to the EPLF Serpents to, serve Issayas’s purpose. By the way, why would you praise a leader who forces youngsters to run away from Eritrea and die in Libya deserts and Yemeni waters? Indeed Sad

  24. yikerbelen
    | #24


  25. Samuel Core
    | #25

    Well … by reading your small article, I couldn’t make sense of what the objectives of the forum was!!! Nonetheless, it seems the two professors were talking some sort of “science fiction”. Do you seriously think that this is the era for discussing “confederation”, “federation” or “unity” between Ethiopia and Eritrea? What we should be talking about it is how to build lasting peace between this two countries and how to make sure that the two live peacefully side by side and with a spirit of good neighbourhood. The two coming together is an issue to be left for coming generations. Just remember how many years it would take to just lower “tariff barriers” between two competing countries let along for unifying two hostile countries, which harbour deep mistrust and outright hatred to each other. The forum would have make a meaningful contribution if it sticks to realities and avoid unrealistic assumptions by, admiringly, two goodwishing professors. The initiative is fantastic but its focus and aspriations are unrealistic, hence useless. Keep the momentum but please tailor it to reality if you wish to make real contribution.

  26. Getachew Reda
    | #26

    If you do not take the given solution as a first step solving factor to the present misery, I guarantee you there will be worst demise coming against Eritrea. It is hard for Eritreans and Ethiopians to enjoy freedom, and continue having such destructive leaders and cult followers like you. First of all, you didn’t provide a solution. Until we see your detail options to counter the suggested solution, yours is what we call empty GEREWYNAY. Second, your voice your lively hood and life style are different from those who are living in Eritrea with a misery. So your defense is not the people’s reaction but individual who eats three times a day and extra hamburger in Europe and US.

    Third, you are not the one who is trapped in Eritrea under Issayas’s terrifying gun on your head, it is the millions who are trapped and surrounded by iIsayas protected by force from running in to Ethiopia where they daily flock. What does that show you? You can’t make peaceful coexistence simply from empty content “peace”. You need to understand that the lies and the fabrications and misusing of freedom and confusion that brought the people to such misery, hunger, arrest, intimidation luck of freedom of criticizing their institution, caused by your own leaders. Help your people how to remove your Issayas before rejecting the professors who are advising you as long as Issays is still in power ( as well meles) these two jungle leaders are still tools of lies and destructions.

    More Eritrean and Ethiopians will still continue thinking of running away from their native country as long as the people are still confused by people like you advising them from oversea living with comfort, apart and far from living the way the people live. What is the solution to solve the expected misery of those to brother people? Read the solution by the two scholars. You seemed to not understand them; it is because you are set to deny any reality outside Issayas’s dictatorship. Many of you are hooked still to the old lies and false freedoms and delusions that still playing as main factor in the thinking of the Eritrean head to think straight.

    In the course of century, you people were been fed so many lies and distortions, now is hard for your mind to accept any solution outside distortion. Sorry for those 8m 13 years old school children who rise up early in the chilly morning at 2 AM to seek and buy one loaf of bread early every day at 2 AM in the morning, on line in government bakery house in the chilly cold! Any solution? Your offer to the Eritrean society is been tried for 17 years- it brought only isolation and misery. Any solution? Take our solution, until we hear from you. If you stick to your old lies and false pride and walk with delusionary vision and failed taking those options presented to your people to solve the present misery, the result will be more demise to come. I guarantee you that. But as was said on the solution we expect so many resistances,

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