Germany and Eritrea: Bilateral relations

08.04.2020 - Article

As a result of the Ethiopian-Eritrean border war (1998-2000) and the political situation in Eritrea, the full potential for closer bilateral relations has not been fully realised. Since relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia have improved, and the peace agreement between the two countries was signed in July 2018, the German Government has been endeavouring to intensify relations with Eritrea once again. High-level visits have taken place since the start of the peace process, including a visit by Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller in August 2018 and Minister of State for International Cultural Policy Michelle Müntefering in January 2019. A delegation from the Bundestag Committee on Economic Cooperation and Development visited in March 2019.

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. The Philharmonie Leipzig gave two noteworthy performances in Eritrea in 2015 and 2016. The Eritro-German Management and Cultural Centre in Asmara, which contains a German library, is pivotal in cooperation. The Centre was built in the 1990s by the German Länder Baden-Württemberg, Bremen and Hesse for members of the returning diaspora. Some 25,000 Eritreans fled to Germany during the hostilities with the Ethiopian government (1961-1991). The vast majority of them have since acquired German citizenship. Around 70,000 Eritrean nationals now live in Germany.

Development cooperation was terminated in mid-2008. However, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is still 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 involved in medical capacity-building in Eritrea for years.


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