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Eritrea: We do not want money from Italy, but investment

Yemane Gebreab, Presidential Adviser and Head of Political Affairs for PFDJ, in Rome, Italy. 

This article was translated from Italian using online software

By Askanews

Rome, July 3 (Askanews) - Eritrea does not want the "money of Italy, does not want assistance, nor aid", but "Italian investments", because "we have always been the route of entry for Italy in the Horn of Africa and we believe we have countless opportunities for Italian companies, not only to work in the Eritrean market but also to settle in Eritrea and then expand in the Horn of Africa and in the Gulf countries". This is what was said to askanews by Yemane Gebreab, adviser to the Eritrean President, during a visit to Rome.

In 2014, the former Italian foreign deputy Lapo Pistelli had been visiting Asmara to "activate a journey of cooperation on all areas of mutual interest" in the face of the massive arrival of Eritrean migrants on the Italian coasts. But according to Eritrean authorities, once out of the scene Pistelli, "has stopped everything". Last October, Foreign Minister Eritrean, Osman Saleh Mohammed, said to Askanews: "We are working with the EU, with Germany and other European countries, but not with Italy... Italy does not want to cooperate with Eritrea and we do not know why."

To stem the flight of its young people from the country, the Eritrean government has focused on job creation, asking about this the support of Europe. In January 2016, the EU announced aid of 200 million euro in favor of Eritrea in the fight against poverty and for the socio-economic development of the country, through the 11th European Development Fund (Fez) in the period 2014-2020 . In September 2016 the Eritrean authorities signed a protocol of cooperation with Germany aimed precisely at creating job opportunities for young people through vocational training; and in December 2016, through the Africa Fund created in Malta in 2015, the EU has allocated 13 million euro, to which Berlin has added three more, for a project to support the development of small and medium enterprises through courses training for young people.

If in 2015 there were over 36,000 Eritrean migrants arrived on Italian shores since the beginning of 2017 to June 30 last year, the Italian interior ministry recorded 2,690 Eritreans. "The Eritrean arrivals numbers are declining dramatically due to changes taking place in the country - said Yemane - but for us, we are a small country, any number of Eritreans want to leave the country is too big, even if it is small numbers". If the numbers have dropped, he added, because "we are offering young people training, the employment situation is improving, the economy is growing and also young people are becoming aware of the situation in Europe. First thought that life in Europe were easy, they would have been successful, but now they know that life in Europe is difficult, they spend months and months in the shelters.

"We want to promote Italian investment in Eritrea, we want Italian entrepreneurs to come to work in Eritrea, we want Italians to visit Eritrea in more substantial numbers, we want Italian professionals to come to Eritrea – said Yemane – we are not interested in the money of Italy, we do not want assistance, nor help. What we want is to develop a partnership that will make Italy return to the Horn of Africa and the gulf in a massive way. and the natural entry point for Italy is Eritrea. This is what we are trying to promote in terms of idea, way of thinking. And we do not want to speak only with the government, but also with the Italian society, with the entrepreneurial world, with the academic world ".

Yemane has in fact recalled the "very close relations between Italy and Eritrea, historical, cultural and technological relationships", emphasizing that the country of the Horn of Africa, the Italian colony until the Second World War, wants to "build relations between the two peoples, among the respective university worlds, to develop all forms of cooperation with Italy". But according to the adviser of the Eritrean president, "in Italy there is still no awareness of what Eritrea can be important for Italy. And as long as there is no such awareness I do not think it will change anything "in the relations between the two countries.

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