After 20 yrs Ethiopia-Eritrea border opens

The land border between Ethiopia and Eritrea has been opened for the first time in two decades.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki opened the frontier at Burre on Tuesday, a region that saw some of the fiercest fighting during their 1998-2000 war.

Tensions over the border burned on after the fighting ended until Abiy offered to end the military standoff this year as part of a package of reforms that has reshaped the political landscape in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

The two leaders also celebrated the Ethiopian new year together with their troops at Burre, before opening another border crossing point between Ethiopian border town of Zalambesa and Serha on Eritrian side.

“PM Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki are visiting Bure Front along Ethio-Eritrea border to celebrate the New Year with members of the Ethiopian & Eritrean Defense Forces following the full normalization of the relations between the two countries. #Ethiopia #Eritrea,” Fitsum Arega, Abiy’s Chief of Staff, said on Twitter.

Eritrea’s Information Minister Yemane Meskel said on Twitter the border post was now opened for road transport.

“President Isaias Afwerki & Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed today officially opened the Debay Sima – Burre border point between z two countries for road transport connectivity,” Yemane said.

The reopening of the border will pave the way for the flow of people and goods between the neighbours.

Since signing an agreement in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, on July 9 to restore ties, the leaders from the neighbouring countries have moved swiftly to end the two decades of hostility.

Eritrea reopened its embassy in Ethiopia in July, and Ethiopia reciprocated last week.

Commercial flights have been resumed between the two countries and telephone lines restored, while Asmara has agreed to open up its ports to its landlocked neighbour and last week announced plans to upgrade a road between them. The opening of the Burre crossing will provide Ethiopia with access to the Red Sea port of Assab.

Residents at another part of the border said Eritrean and Ethiopian soldiers started clearing landmines on Monday, ahead of a potential opening.

Ethiopia follows a calendar similar to the ancient Julian calendar, which started disappearing from the West in the 16th century, meaning the country will enter its year 2011 on September 11.

Unlike the Gregorian calendar used officially in Eritrea and the West, Ethiopia’s version squeezes 13 months into every year – 12 months comprising 30 days each and a final month made up of just five or six days depending on whether it is a leap year, Aljazeera TV reports.

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