Dr. Andreas Zimmerman, German Ambassador to Eritrea and Mr. Andreas Laemmel, from the Bundestag, invited Ambassador Mr. Negassi Kassa Tekle, Ambassador of Eritrea to the European Union, to the German Dresden Chamber of Commerce for discussions on bilateral trade opportunities as between the two countries.
Mr. Laemmel had visited Eritrea and with a delegation and met with Ministers and institutions including the National Union of Eritrean Workers (NUEW) and the National Confederation of Eritrean Women (NCEW) and was aware that the western media narrative did not accurately reflect the ground reality in Eritrea. It was, therefore, all the more important to look at common areas of dialogue and cooperation and with the hope that the Eritrean diaspora in Germany would take the initiative to act as a bridge for dialogue as instead of further polarizing the issues.
Ambassador Negassi was at pains to state the critical and important work being carried out by the Government of Eritrea (GoE) to lay the foundations and infrastructure to support the self-reliance and sustainable nation-building aspirations of Eritreans.
That the GoEs priority was in the key areas of Food Security, AgriBusiness, Fisheries, Tourism and continued infrastructure development. That internet and broadband was currently a hindrance and an area of priority as part of the country’s infrastructure development.
The underlying message from Ambassador Negassi was that Eritrea, as a nation and through its history had emanated from the struggle for human rights and that the Government’s priority was the human rights of the Eritrean people. That is through efforts in addressing poverty, food security, health, and education.
That any genuine interest in the human rights of the Eritrean people had to address first and as a priority the continued failure of the International community to respect the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s decision and where Ethiopia maintained its illegal occupation of sovereign Eritrean territory. That as a result of this continued incursion national service, albeit no longer indefinite, had to be maintained as the nation was in a continued state of emergency.
Further, the media narrative on Eritrea remained at odds with the ground reality in Eritrea and that organized human trafficking was a virulent malaise on the Eritrean people along with granting of automatic asylum to Eritrean migrants which was a strong pull factor for Eritreans to leave for economic reasons to the West. With respect to political prisoners, the individuals referred to by western media were charged with treason and accordingly were incarcerated.
Nevsun Resources Limited represented by Mr. Todd Romaine, CSR VP provided an account of how Nevsun had successfully operated in the country for over twenty years and during the difficult years when sanctions were first imposed. That in collaboration with the GoE and its entities had created a model template to ensure high standards for any mining company wishing to do business in Eritrea. That Nevsun had conducted a number of Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIA) conducted by an independent human rights lawyer and published for public consumption. That a number of recommendations were made in the HRIA and continued tracking and monitoring to ensure the implementation of the recommendations. Further, the issues raised at the Bisha mine were not unique to the mine but typical of other well run mines around the world.
The Ambassador concluded with the importance of continued dialogue with Eritrea and for a better understanding of the country with a “come and see” invitation to the participants.