Following 30 years of armed conflict, Eritrea broke off from Ethiopia in 1993 after a referendum on independence. Germany established bilateral relations with Eritrea that same year.
Eritrea’s initially democratic development was interrupted by the Ethiopian-Eritrean border war (1998-2000). The potential for closer bilateral relations was not fully exploited.
Following the signing of the peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia in July 2018, the German Government endeavoured to intensify relations with Eritrea again. For example, Government representatives and members of the German Bundestag visited the country. The political situation in Eritrea and the role of Eritrean armed forces in the intra-Ethiopian Tigray conflict (till the end of 2022) pose considerable challenges to bilateral relations.
There is little economic exchange between Germany and Eritrea. The focus is on trade and tourism. There is currently no official cooperation in the fields of culture and civil society. The private Eritro-German Association runs German language courses in the Eritro-German Center in Asmara, which has a German library. It was built in the 1990s by the German Länder Baden-Württemberg, Bremen and Hesse for members of the returning diaspora. There are some 70,000 Eritrean nationals living in Germany today. Owing to the political situation in Eritrea, there is no bilateral development cooperation. However, within the framework of special initiatives, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is currently supporting a fishing project in cooperation with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and is also supporting German NGOs in the medical sector. The charitable organisations Hammer Forum and ARCHEMED are examples of German civil-society organisations that have been working successfully for years with medical teams on the ground. With the help of the African Development Bank, fresh impetus is also being provided in the fields of renewable energy sources and the blue economy.