Edinburgh: On Tuesday 20th September 2011 Eritrean Ambassador of the state of Eritrea to the UK and Ireland H.E. Tesfamichael Grahtu delivered an insightful presentation to Scottish Parliamentarians. The event took place at the avant-grade Scottish parliament situated in the Hollyrood area of Scotland’s capital Edinburgh.
Organised by the Eritrean Scottish friends in association with Cross Party Group on International Development, the Ambassador was invited to address Scottish parliamentarians on Water, Self Reliance and sustainability from African perspective, the Ambassador also gave extensive presentation on why we hear so much about drought in the Horn of Africa, but not in Eritrea?
Amongst the participants were members of the Scottish parliament, diplomats, high scholars, and various representatives of Scottish institutions. The opening remarks was conducted by Sarah Boyack MSP (Convener) followed by the Ambassadors extensive briefing on the challenges that faced Eritrea from the time of independence that ranged from food shortage, devastated economy, education, to health drawing upon how the government overturned the situation by the means pragmatic approach and by implementing the strategy of self reliance.
The Ambassador also mentioned that it was not a miracle that Eritrea achieved a bumper harvest in 2010 as a result of the concerted effort done in transforming the agriculture sector and the promotion of food security. He also further explained that there is no complacency as food security goes beyond the fulfillment of the demands of just few years. The long term strategic goal and effort to promote food security continues to be a major issue of sustainability but will definitely require time, space and organization. Nonetheless the pragmatic policies and practice have certainly so far shown that “it can be done” and there is already the political will and commitment to go along the path.
Ambassador Gerahtu also linked the issue of water security with the basic values & drive for transformation of a new Eritrea. He further discussed the three pillars needed for the goal, which was owning own decision, self-reliance, and building national capacity.
Towards the end of the presentation the participants were given the opportunity to ask the Ambassador questions on health, education, as well as mining, tourism and the other sectors that could revitalize the Eritrean economy? Adequate answers including current achievements with regards to the millennium development goals, as well as the policies that the government of Eritrea is taking on the over all diversification of the economy for the purposes of sustainability were clearly explained.
According to Mr Gordon Peters and Mr Michael Freudenberg members of the Eritrean Scottish friendship the outcome of the presentation was enlightening and was one that gave an insight into the overall issue of aid and how nations should take Eritrea as a model. In addition to that most of the participants expressed extreme satisfaction in the presentation both on content and delivery.
Head of the Eritrean community in Scotland Ms Mariem Yassin on her part noted that it is also to be recalled that the continued effort of the Eritrean Scottish friendship on people to people diplomacy is a continuation of the Eritrean Martyr’s Park in Scotland that was established in Campsie Glen, near Lennoxtown by the Eritrean Community in collaboration with Forestry Commission (Scotland) in March 2010 after a concerted effort since 2008.
This event also comes at a time where extensive diplomatic efforts are under way, high-level Eritrean delegations led by President Isaias Afewerki have been traveling abroad ranging from state visits to Uganda & Equatorial Guinea. Currently the president is in New York attending the 66th session of the UN General Assembly. The Presidents visit covers the addressing of the General Assembly, holding high level diplomatic talks, and also a seminar for Ertreans residing in North America.