Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Eritrean ambassador to the African Union (AU), Girma Asmeron Tesfay, has presented his letters of credence to the continental body, AU Commission President Jean Ping African Union (AU) confirmed here Wednesday. Eritrea, which split from Ethiopia, has no diplomatic relations with Addis Ababa, the seat of the AU. The two countries have not re-established diplomatic ties since fighting a border war in the 1990s. The issue remains unresolved.
While welcoming the Eritrean envoy, the Chairperson said he was delighted to see Eritrea return to the African Union after several years of absence.
He described Eritrea’s return as a major achievement which has been a priority since he took office three years ago.
Ping recalled that one of his first trips abroad as AUC Chairperson was to Asmara, where he held fruitful discussions with President Isaias Afwerki on several issues of mutual interest, including the reopening of Eritrea’s mission to the AU.
Eritrea has been unable to attend the annual AU Heads of State Summits, claiming the security of its delegates would be threatened by its rivalry with hosts Ethiopia.
In January 2010, the issue of Eritrea’s representation became a subject of discussions following a letter of protest sent to the AU chief, in which Eritrea claimed its rights to attend the AU Summit had been denied for years.
Ping responded by inviting Eritrea to re-open its mission to the AU, but on the condition that such a mission would not go beyond its representation to the Commission.
The Chairperson assured Ambassador Girma of the full support and cooperation of the Commission in the discharge of his new responsibilities.
In response, the new Permanent Representative lauded the efforts and goodwill of the Chairperson and expressed his country’s gratitude for the key role he played in bringing Eritrea back to the African Union.
The Ambassador also reiterated Eritrea’s commitment to peace, stability and development in Africa.