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) and did not continue after the end of the conflict. As a result, the potential for closer bilateral relations through political, economic and social exchange was not fully realised.
Following the signing of the peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia in July 2018, the German Government endeavoured to intensify relations with Eritrea as far as possible. For example, Government representatives and members of the German Bundestag visited the country. However, the political situation in Eritrea and the role of Eritrean armed forces in the intra‑Ethiopian Tigray conflict pose considerable challenges to bilateral relations.
There is little economic exchange between Germany and Eritrea. The focus is on trade and tourism. Cultural relations are kept alive with activities including occasional concerts by German performers. For instance, the Philharmonie Leipzig performed in Eritrea in 2015 and 2016. The Eritro-German Management and Cultural Centre in Asmara, which contains a German library, is pivotal in cooperation. 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, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is 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 ARCHEMED, Medcare for people in Eritrea, Pro Eritrea and Hammer Forum are examples of German civil-society organisations that have successfully been working to support medical teams in Eritrea for years.