Foreign relations of Eritrea

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The foreign relations of Eritrea are the policies of the Eritrean government by which it administers its external relations with other nations. Since its independence, Eritrea's foreign relations have been dominated by conflict and confrontation, both in the regional and international arenas. It has maintained often troubled, and usually violent, relations with its neighbors, including brief armed conflicts with Yemen and Djibouti and a destructive war with its bigger-neighbour, Ethiopia.[1] At present, Eritrea has very tense relations with neighboring Ethiopia and Djibouti. Relations in the international arena also have been strained since the last decade, particularly with major powers. What appeared cordial relations with the US in the 1990s turned acrimonious following the border war with Ethiopia, 1998-2000.[1] Although the two nations have a close working relationship regarding the ongoing war on terror, there has been a growing tension in other areas. Ties with international organizations such as the United Nations, the African Union, and the European Union have also been complicated in part because of Eritrea's outrage at their reluctance to force Ethiopia to accept a boundary commission ruling issued in 2002.[1]

International organizations[edit]

Eritrea is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, and is an observing member of the Arab League.

Eritrea holds a seat on the United Nations' Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

Eritrea also holds memberships in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation, International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), Non-Aligned Movement, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Permanent Court of Arbitration, Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa, and the World Customs Organization.

Bilateral relations[edit]

Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Armenia 16 October 1994

Both countries established diplomatic relations on 16 October 1994.

 Azerbaijan 20 April 2004[2] Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the State of Eritrea were established on April 20, 2004.[2]
 Croatia See Croatia–Eritrea relations
 Ethiopia 9 July 2018 See Eritrea–Ethiopia relations

Eritrea's foreign relations with Ethiopia are adversarial.[3] Immediately after Eritrea's independence from Ethiopia, relations were cordial despite the former relationship. Since independence Eritrea's relationship with Ethiopia was entirely political, especially in the resuscitation and expansion of IGAD's scope. Since 1998 and the Eritrean–Ethiopian War, the relationship became increasingly hostile.

In December 2000, Eritrea and Ethiopia signed a peace treaty ending their war and created a pair of binding judicial commissions, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Border Commission and the Eritrean-Ethiopian Claims Commission, to rule on their disputed border and related claims. In April 2002 The Commission released its decision (with a clarification in 2003).[4] Disagreements following the war have resulted in stalemate punctuated by periods of elevated tension and renewed threats of war.[5][6] Since these decisions Ethiopia has refused to permit the physical demarcation of the border while Eritrea insists the border must be demarcated as defined by the commission. Consequently, the Boundary Commission ruled boundary as virtually demarcated and effective.

Eritrea maintains a military force on its border with Ethiopia roughly equal in size to Ethiopia's force, which has required a general mobilization of a significant portion of the population.[7] Eritrea has viewed this border dispute as an existential threat to itself in particular and the African Union in general, because it deals with the supremacy of colonial boundaries in Africa.[8] Since the border conflict Ethiopia no longer uses Eritrean ports for its trade.[9]

During the border conflict and since, Ethiopia has fostered militants against Eritrea (including ethnic separatists and religiously based organizations).[10] Eritrea has retaliated by hosting militant groups against Ethiopia as well. The United Nations Security Council argues that Eritrea and Ethiopia have expanded their dispute to a second theater, Somalia.[11]

In March 2012, Ethiopia attacked Eritrean army outposts along the border. Addis Ababa said the assault was in retaliation for the training and support given by Asmara to subversives while Eritrea said the U.S knew of the attacks, an accusation denied by US officials.[12]

In July 2018, leaders both countries signed a peace treaty to put a formal end to a state of war between both nations paving the way for greater economic cooperation and improved ties between them.[13]

 Finland See Eritrea–Finland relations
 Germany Eritrean ambassador first sent to Germany on Sept 14, 1992.
 Israel 1993 See Eritrea–Israel relations

Eritrea developed relations with Israel shortly after gaining its independence in 1993, despite protests among Arab countries. Israeli-Eritrean relations are close. The president of Eritrea has visited Israel for medical treatment. However, Eritrea condemned Israeli military action during the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict.[14] Israeli-Eritrean ties are complicated by Israel's close ties to Ethiopia, who have shared an unfriendly dyad with Eritrea for a long time.

 Italy See Eritrea–Italy relations
  • Eritrea has an embassy in Rome and a consulate in Milan.
  • Italy has an embassy in Asmara.
 Mexico 23 June 1993

During the 2017 Qatar diplomatic crisis, Eritrea refused a request by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates to cut relations with Qatar, citing its "strong ties with the brother people of Qatar."[17]

 South Korea 24 May 1993

Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Korea and the State of Eritrea were established on 24 May 1993.[18]


Eritrea broke diplomatic relations with the Sudan in December 1994. This action was taken after a long period of increasing tension between the two countries due to a series of cross-border incidents involving the Eritrean Islamic Jihad (EIJ). Although the attacks did not pose a threat to the stability of the Government of Eritrea (the infiltrators have generally been killed or captured by government forces), the Eritreans believe the National Islamic Front (NIF) in Khartoum supported, trained, and armed the insurgents. After many months of negotiations with the Sudanese to try to end the incursions, the Government of Eritrea concluded that the NIF did not intend to change its policy and broke relations. Subsequently, the Government of Eritrea hosted a conference of Sudanese opposition leaders in June 1995 in an effort to help the opposition unite and to provide a credible alternative to the present government in Khartoum. Eritrea resumed diplomatic relations with Sudan on December 10, 2005.[19] Since then, Sudan has accused Eritrea, along with Chad, of supporting rebels.[20] The undemarcated border with Sudan previously posed a problem for Eritrean external relations.[21]

After a high-level delegation to the Sudan from the Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ties are being normalized. While normalization of ties continues, Eritrea has been recognized as a broker for peace between the separate factions of the Sudanese civil war. "It is known that Eritrea played a role in bringing about the peace agreement [between the Southern Sudanese and Government],"[22] while the Sudanese Government and Eastern Front rebels have requested Eritrea to mediate peace talks.[23] The Eritrean President, Isaias Afewerki, and his Sudanese counterpart Omar Al-Bashir held talks in Asmara on a number of bilateral issues of mutual concern to the two East African countries. The talks dealt with enhancing bilateral ties and cooperation including making their shared border more open. Sudan and Eritrea agreed to abolish entry visa requirements, opening their common borders for free movement of both nationals.[24] In 2011, Eritrea and Sudan cooperated in the building of the Kassala-Al Lafa Highway linking the two countries.[25]

 Turkey 1993[26] See also Eritrea–Turkey relations
  • The Embassy of Eritrea in Doha is accredited to Turkey.[26]
  • Turkey has an embassy in Asmara.[26]
  • Trade volume between the two countries was 13.9 million USD in 2019.[26]
 United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates are a member of the Saudi-led coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed is quoted stating the UAE are using "logistical facilities at the port and airport" in the southern city of Assab.[27] Human Rights Watch reported that the UAE maintains a detention facility at the Assab base, where it may have transferred high-profile prisoners out of Yemen.[28]

 United States 24 May 1993 See Eritrea–United States relations

Diplomatic relations between the United States and the State of Eritrea were established on May 24, 1993.


A dispute with Yemen over the Hanish Islands in 1996 resulted in a brief war. As part of an agreement to cease hostilities, the nations agreed to refer the issue to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague. At the conclusion of the proceedings, both nations acquiesced to the 1998 decision which said sovereignty should be shared.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Nur, Salih O. (2013) "Foreign Policy of Eritrea: Explained in the Light of Democratic Peace Proposition." International Journal of Peace and Development Studies 4(2): 23
  2. ^ a b "Eritrea". Retrieved 2021-01-23.
  3. ^ "Ethiopia, Eritrea Accuse Each Other of Starting Border Fight". NYC: NYT. 2016-06-14. Retrieved 2016-06-14.
  4. ^ "Q&A: Horn's bitter border war". London: BBC. 2005-12-07. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  5. ^ "Horn tensions trigger UN warning". London: BBC. 2004-02-04. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  6. ^ "Horn border tense before deadline". London: BBC. 2005-12-23. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  7. ^ "Army build-up near Horn frontier". London: BBC. 2005-11-02. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  8. ^ "Eritrea warns Ethiopia on border". BBC News. 2003-04-04. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  9. ^ "Ethiopia rejects Eritrean ports". BBC News. 2002-11-18. Retrieved 2012-02-01.
  10. ^ "Eritrea Accuses Ethiopia of Border Attacks". VOA News. Voice of America. 27 December 2007. Archived from the original on 2012-07-29. Retrieved 2008-12-27.
  11. ^ Report of the Monitoring Group on Somalia pursuant to Security Council resolution 1853 (2008). Monitoring Group on Somalia. 2010-03-10.
  12. ^ "Eritrean President Discusses Path to Development". VOA. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Ex-foes Ethiopia, Eritrea eye peace dividend after historic deal". 9 July 2018. Retrieved 30 December 2018 – via
  14. ^ WebCite query result
  15. ^ "The Embassy of Eritrea - Washington D.C." Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  16. ^ "Embassy of Mexico in Egypt". Retrieved 2018-12-30.
  17. ^ Atılgan, Ayşe Hümeyra. "Eritrea rejects cutting ties with Qatar". Anadolu Agency. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-04. Retrieved 2015-06-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Sudan, Eritrea resume severed diplomatic relations". Archived from the original on 2007-01-16. Retrieved 2006-09-04.
  20. ^ Eritrea, Chad accused of aiding Sudan rebels Archived 2012-06-29 at, afrol News, September 7. Retrieved 2009-03-15
  21. ^ "Eritrea-Sudan relations plummet". London: BBC. 2004-01-15. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  22. ^ "Turabi terms USA "world's ignoramuses", fears Sudan's partition". Sudan Tribune. 2005-11-04. Archived from the original on 2006-07-18. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  23. ^ "Sudan demands Eritrean mediation with eastern Sudan rebels". Sudan Tribune. 2006-04-18. Archived from the original on 2006-05-19. Retrieved 2006-06-07.
  24. ^ "Eritrean, Sudanese leaders hold talks in Asmara - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  25. ^ "Sudan-Eritrea road to boost ties: Emir". Archived from the original on 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2011-10-27.
  26. ^ a b c d "Relations between Turkey and Eritrea".
  27. ^ "Has Eritrea's migration problem been exaggerated?". BBC.
  28. ^ "Yemen: UAE Backs Abusive Local Forces". Human Rights Watch. June 22, 2017. Human Rights Watch was not able to verify these claims, but according to lawyers and activists, as well as relatives of men who had been disappeared, the UAE was transferring high-level detainees outside of Yemen. According to one of the activists, about 15 people accused of being members of AQAP or IS-Y had been transferred to the base the UAE has been developing in Eritrea’s port city, Assab, over the past two years. A man whose relatives had been disappeared said at least five officials told him the UAE transferred the men outside of Yemen, including three who said the men were being held in Eritrea.
  29. ^ "Flights back on between Yemen and Eritrea". London: BBC. 1998-12-13. Retrieved 2006-06-07.