Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki on Monday officially reopened the Oumhajir-Humera border crossing that connects the two countries.

The newly reopened Omhager-Humera frontier, which had been closed for more than two decades due to the dreadful political ties among the two countries, is the latest move as the two former long-time foes ushered a new beginning to their hostile relations.

Eritrea’s Afwerki and Ethiopia’s Ahmed, accompanied with senior officials of the two East African countries, on Monday witnessed the official reopening of the border crossing.  According to Eritrea’s Minister of Information Yemane Gebremeskel, reopening of the road is in line with the article 3 of the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship that the two countries signed on July 9.

Article 3 of the joint peace accord aspires for the resumption of transport, trade and communication links between the two countries, Gebremeskel said in a statement on Monday. The opening of the border is anticipated to further enable the people-to-people relation on both sides, as well as to facilitate cross-border trade among the two countries in the long run, it was noted.  Recent positive developments between Ethiopia and Eritrea ended two decades of bitter armed standoff which followed a bloody border war in 1998-2000.  Amid the easing tensions, telecom services between the two countries have resumed, embassies resumed diplomatic relations, and agreements were made to strengthen economic ties.

The two countries’ flag carriers – Ethiopian Airlines and Eritrean Airlines – have also started flights to Asmara and Addis Ababa respectively.  Leaders of the two countries, in another bid to augment their growing ties, had also agreed to increase the movement and amount of bilateral trade through Eritrea’s port city of Assab to Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa.

On Sept. 6, Ethiopia reopened its embassy in Asmara, the Eritrean capital, after the reopening of Eritrea’s embassy on July 16 in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.  The decision to construct a pipeline linking Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and Eritrea’s port had been also unveiled by the Ethiopian government and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which would allow landlocked Ethiopia to export crude oil via Eritrean port as Ethiopia recently commenced petroleum test extraction from the Somali Regional State in June this year.

In addition to diplomatic and economic relations, Ethiopia and Eritrea are also undertaking steps to strengthen cultural and people-to-people links between the two countries.

A cultural symposium, which was held recently in Addis Ababa, had also brought together some 500 participants drawn from both countries, including senior government officials from both countries, who discussed various issues that include ways to enhance the cultural and linguistic ties as well as the need for cultural collaboration between Ethiopia and Eritrea. (The New Times)