“Italy lacks the capacity to appreciate that Eritrea is not at this time demanding reparations for the years of suffering the people endured. – @SebleEphrem”
BY ALBERTO ALPOZZI*
Since 2014, the Italian government no longer cooperates with Eritrea, its former favorite colony. At the time, Lapo Pistelli, former Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, with the new wave of Eritrean immigrants on the Italian coasts, had been visiting Asmara to activate cooperation with Eritrea of mutual interest. Unfortunately, with the change of the Italian top ministers and with the exit of Pistelli from the scene, everything has been blocked, forgotten.
Currently, Asmara’s government, according to statements of last October by Osman Saleh Mohammed, Foreign Minister of Eritrea, he said: “Eritrea is working with the European Union, with Germany and other European countries, but not with Italy … Italy does not want to cooperate with Eritrea and we do not know why.”
Today, the adviser of Eritrean President, Yemane Gebreab, on a visit to Rome stressed that Eritrea is not looking for “Italy’s money, does not want assistance or aid,” but instead wants “Italian investments,” because “we have always been the gateway for Italy to the Horn of Africa and we believe there are plenty of opportunities for Italian companies, not only to work in the Eritrean market, but also to settle in Eritrea and then expand into the Horn of Africa and the Gulf Countries”.
The European investments required by Eritrea serve to stem the exodus of their young people by creating employment.
In January 2016, the European Union had announced aid for 200 million euros in favor of the country to cope with poverty and to stimulate socio-economic development, through the 11th EDF (European Development Fund) for the period 2014 – 2020.
In September of that year, the Eritrean government signed a cooperation protocol with Germany to create employment opportunities for young people through training courses. In December, through the Africa Fund created in Malta in 2015, the European Union has allocated € 13 million, of which Germany has added another 3 million for a small and medium-sized development project.
In 2015 there were more than 36,000 Eritreans arrived Italian coasts, from the beginning of 2017 to today, however, there were only 2,690.
“The number of Eritrean arrivals are dropping drastically due to changes in the country,” said Yemane Gebreab, ” but for us, that we are a small country, any number of Eritreans want to leave the country is too big, though these are small numbers.”
The exodus to Italy has slowed down because “we are offering young training courses, the job situation is improving, the economy is growing and young people are also aware of the situation in Europe. They first thought that life in Europe was easy, that they would be successful, but now they know that life in Europe is difficult, spending months and months in reception centers.”
In fact, he continues: “We want to promote Italian investments in Eritrea, we want Italian entrepreneurs to work in Eritrea, we want Italians to visit Eritrea in greater numbers, we want Italian professionals to come to Eritrea. We are not interested in Italy’s money, we do not want assistance, help. What we want is to develop a partnership that will return Italy in the Horn of Africa and the Gulf massively and the natural entry point for Italy is Eritrea. That’s what we are trying to promote in terms of ideas, thinking. We do not want to talk only with the government, but also with Italian society, with the business world, with the academic world.”
Yemane concluded by recalling the “very close relations between Italy and Eritrea, historical, cultural, technological relations” , emphasizing that the former colony of Eritrea would again like to “build relations between the two peoples, among the respective university worlds,” but stressed that ” in Italy there is still no awareness of how much Eritrea can be important to Italy and until such awareness becomes apparent, I do not think it will change anything . “
* Software translation from Italian