Forum for National Dialogue (FND)

Forum for National Dialogue (FND)

Press Release 

21.01.2016

The leadership of the Forum for National Dialogue (FND) met with H.E. Ato Hailemariam Desalegn, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, and his Special Envoy, Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, in Addis Ababa on Monday 18 January 2016.

During this introductory meeting, the FND presented a brief explanation of the worsening political, economic and human rights situation in Eritrea; its vision for a free, sovereign, democratic and prosperous Eritrea liveable for its people; and a new relationship of peaceful coexistence, non-interference and cooperation with its neighbours based on reciprocal respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. More specifically, the FND underscored its effort to connect all Eritrean progressive forces at home and in the Diaspora to coalesce and work together for a common purpose so as to crystallise an orderly transition to democracy that guarantees an inclusive governance system that adheres to the constitution and rule of law. Furthermore, the FND shared its stance, commonly shared, that peace and security, so essential to the development, progress and prosperity of the peoples of the Horn of Africa would be better served within the framework of regional cooperation and integration.

The Prime Minister, in turn, articulated Ethiopia’s strategy towards Eritrea. He stated that the last war had disastrous consequences for both Eritrea and Ethiopia and the region at large, and reiterated his Government’s desire to settle all outstanding issues between the two countries through dialogue. He declared his commitment to work for regional peace, stability and progress, and expressed his wish that Eritrea would play its due role in that process. The Prime Minster underscored his Government’s unequivocal recognition of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Eritrea. He also affirmed Ethiopia’s unconditional acceptance of the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission and readiness to implement the decision and restore normal bilateral relations between the two countries. He went on to underline that change in Eritrea is the business of the Eritrean people, that Eritreans themselves should lead and drive the struggle for democratic change in Eritrea without any external intervention, and that Ethiopia fully supports an inclusive struggle for democratic transition in Eritrea.

The Prime Minister acknowledged that both sides made mistakes of expulsions, echoed the Ethiopian Government’s regret for the wartime deportations and reiterated that the Ethiopian government makes a distinction between the Eritrean regime and the Eritrean people. As such, the Ethiopian government took steps to redress the wrongs while the Eritrean government has not done so: It allowed Eritrean civilians to return to Ethiopia and reclaim their properties and has extended humane treatment to the large influx of Eritrean refugees, including allowing eligible students access to university education. He reiterated his belief that a stable, strong and prosperous Eritrea is in the interest of the peoples of Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

On their part, the FND leaders expressed their appreciation for the clear positions stated by the Prime Minister. The meeting concluded with a common commitment to continue the dialogue. To that effect the Prime Minister stated his intention to appoint a team to further the dialogue with the FND leadership.

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