Serawr Information Centre 25 September 2020
A Netherlands-based organisation that claims to stand for human rights of the Eritrean people is proudly claiming that European Union has promised “to halt building Eritrean roads”. The organisation also credited itself and claims that “the EU has indicated that it will change its policy with regard to road construction projects in Eritrea. The EU has announced a ‘no more roads’ approach, whereby further funds that were earmarked for road construction on top of the 80 million euros have been diverted to Sudan and other projects in Eritrea”.
The organisation says that it has decided to withdraw the lawsuit it filed against the European Union for funding to repair roads between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Following the peace agreement reached between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the EU decided to fund the road repairs. At the same time the so called “human right organisation” started its campaign against the decision.
Many people are dumbfounded why an organisation that claims to stand for human rights of the Eritrean people, could engage in such inhumane acts, and is proud of the promise it claims to have gotten from the EU to divert funds for infrastructure that are vital for peace-building. However, taking a closer look at the organisation reveals that it is only using “human rights” as a cover for a bigger political agenda. This will be discussed below.
One fundamental fact that needs to be clear is that even if this story turns out to be true, there is no road project that will be halted in Eritrea. First, while Eritrea does not mind receiving assistance, at the heart of everything Eritrea does, is based on self-reliance.
Building roads is nothing new to Eritrea. It has built thousands of kilometers with its own resources and construction capability in the last three decades. Eritrea is currently engaged in building major road works that it finances itself; including the strategic modern highway that will connect the central region to the breadbasket of the country, Gash Barka region.
Second, the narrative that the motive behind the European Union providing funds to poor countries is just about lending a helping hand is false. The European Union has a great economic interest in Eritrea and the region at large, which happens to be one of the most strategic and wealthiest regions on earth in terms of natural resources.
The European Union also wants to maintain the power imbalance, and also have an upper hand in its competition with other powers. The expected gratitude for their charitable action is to impose an economic and political system on poor countries, which allows them to exploit these countries as they please.
Let us discuss the so-called “human rights” organisation that is priding itself for halting building Eritrean roads. First, it is important to point out that the Netherlands-based organisation is one of the few organisations that are based in different European countries, which trade in the name Eritrean people.
These organisations are presented as though they were formed and run by “exiled Eritreans”, but the main operators and strategists are non Eritreans- including a Dutch Professor, Mirjam van Reisen, who is influential around European parliament political circles, and a journalist named Martin Plaut.
The aim of these individuals and groups have nothing to do with the human rights of the Eritrean people. They are “regime change” campaigners; who were at the forefront of implementing the Western policy to overthrow the Eritrean government for two decades. Now the only difference is, while these groups are stuck in their old ways, due to development on the ground- namely the defeat of the TPLF that ruled Ethiopia, the Western World had to adjust their regime change policy in Eritrea from active hostility to constructive engagement.
Having been swept away by the massive changes that followed the end of the twenty seven-year rule of the TPLF regime in Ethiopia, these “regime change” campaigners held a conference in Brussels, Belgium, from 12 to 14 of December 2018.
The aim of the conference was to regroup and come up with a new strategy against Eritrea. Lobbying the European Union “ to end support” for the Eritrean government, was one of the main tasks that were set. The TPLF top officials also attended the conference. This was opposed by some Eritreans who asked why the TPLF was taking an active role in Eritrean affairs.
As stated above the human rights of the Eritrean people is not the concern of these groups. In fact, all their activities, including their campaign to impose sanction on Eritrea was to produce a humanitarian crisis in Eritrea; which could serve as pretext for foreign entities to intervene, and to turn the Eritrean people against their government.
Eritrea is a country with a small population and unique history, which has been sentenced to death by the most powerful entities in the world. No stone was left unturned for the collapse of the country. In fact, Eritrea was written off as a country that would inevitably collapse by these groups and their backers.
The enormous challenges including military invasions, sanctions, political and economic pressures, have affected Eritrean people greatly. The ugly war that was waged on Eritrea required a rule of engagement fit for the challenge. Eritrea has come out of the trying times that put its very existence into question as a formidable nation and with its principles intact.
These groups are still having problem to come to terms with reality. Undermining the peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia has become one of their top priorities. However, the bumper harvest, when these groups were given funds and support from governments that pursued regime change in Eritrea, is over.
The world powers are competing for their own economic and geopolitical advantages in the region. The western powers that not long ago demonized Eritrea as a country that destabilized the region, now accept the key leadership role Eritrea plays in peace building and the stabilisation of the region.
These groups are also well aware that Eritrea does not seek charity or political support from the EU or any world body. What Eritrea seeks is a good partnership and cooperation for mutual benefit.
With the emerging peace, Eritrea is focusing its effort and resources towards rehabilitation processes, improving the living stand of its people and building a strong and viable political and economic system.
Here, let it be clear to these groups, no amount of repositioning or false narrative that they now bring, or lobbying the EU , could turn back time. Even if the EU has promised to change its policy on Eritrea as these groups report, it will not affect Eritrea greatly. It is also unlikely beyond paying lip service, the EU would make any major policy change towards Eritrea at the expense of its interest.