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West is Losing Influence on Africa, Says Eritrean Ambassador to Russia

A man waves an Eritrean national flag as hundreds of Eritreans demonstrate in front of the African Union headquarters in support of the UN Inquiry report and asking for measures to be taken against Eritrea on June 26, 2015 in Addis Ababa.InternationalIndiaAfrica Eritrea, a nation in the Horn of Africa, gained de facto independence from Ethiopia in 1991. Two years later, Eritrea became independent de jure and established diplomatic relations with Russia.France and other Western countries are losing their influence in Africa, Eritrean Ambassador to Russia Petros Tseggai said in an interview with Sputnik.According to him, «another world» is being built at the moment, and Africans can «breathe freely,» gaining full independence from American and French influence.Tseggai noted that the countries that suffer the most from foreign manipulations are former French colonies, as France has «not a neo-colonialist, but a colonialist attitude». When decolonization took place in the 20th century, he underlined, African countries were made to «keep their deposits in French banks» and many African leaders had a «little colonial Europe in their heads.» Now, the diplomat said, the younger generation does not agree with such a state of affairs.Eritrea has normal relations with its former metropole – Italy, but the negative historical role which the European country played in the colonial era, is remembered, Tseggai noted. He also said that he wishes to enhance relations with Italy, as «there are no bad peoples» – but «manipulation» is unacceptable.Talking about US policy, Tseggai warned that Washington’s influence can lead to the resumption of the Tigray conflict, as the US supports the Tigray nationalist rebels. He noted that while America tells Eritreans to leave Tigray, it is only the Ethiopian government that can ask Asmara to do so.Eritrea supported Ethiopia in the fight against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which erupted in November 2020 and ended with a ceasefire treaty in November 2022 as a result of an African-Union-led peace process. In late December, it was reported that Eritrean troops had started a withdrawal from major cities in Tigray.AfricaKenya ‘Knows Where Russia Is’ Despite EU Claims, Seeks to Boost Cooperation, Ambassador Says23 December 2022, 13:41 GMTTseggai added that regardless of the West’s opinion, Eritrea will continue military and technical cooperation with Russia and underlined that his country also wishes to develop a partnership with Moscow in the sphere of mineral exploration and oil production.

"I think Russia will help us look for oil, we are sure that we must have oil, all neighbors have oil. Ethiopia, Sudan. Why wouldn't God give it to Eritrea? […] We have already mined gold and other minerals. Eritrea is rich in them, and Russia can play a big role in the exploration of these minerals," the diplomat said.

He also noted that Eritrea views the development of agriculture as a priority in order to enhance food security. The ambassador noted that although his country does not buy grain directly from Russia and is rich in fertilizer, he views Moscow’s offer to supply free fertilizer to Africa as «a very good gesture.»He said that earlier, cooperation between the two countries suffered when Eritrea was under UN sanctions. Now that they are lifted, the prospects are more positive.

"Political relations with Russia have been good all these years, we also supported each other in the international arena. But now our cooperation will especially grow and strengthen, not only in the military sphere, but also in the political, economic, humanitarian, trade and cultural fields," the ambassador said.

He added that he was a student in Odessa, when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. Now, Tseggai said, there are Eritreans who are studying in Russia.

"Over the years that I have been working, the number [of the students] has been growing. We started with five people, now about 20 a year. Russia can accept even more, but it costs us much – we pay seven thousand dollars a year for each student. Russia gives grants, but some come at their own expense. People also go to China to study, to South Korea, South Africa, and Europe," Tseggai noted.

According to the ambassador, the Eritrean delegation will take part in the 2023 Russia–Africa Summit – the Eritrean leader Isaias Afwerki could attend the event himself if the situation on the border with Tigray is stable.The summit will take place in Saint Petersburg in July and will be a follow-up to the 2019 summit in Sochi. Every African state is invited to the meeting.The previous event of the kind was co-hosted by Egypt. Participants outlined priority spheres for economic partnership with measurable goals for coming years in areas such as security, trade, cooperation within international platforms, science, technology and culture.Earlier, Sputnik asked analysts to comment on the topics of Western influence in Africa and its perspectives. According to the experts, France is losing the support of Africans, as it goes on to pursue its unilateral goals in its former colonies. The Sahel region, for instance, has seen anti-French protests and tensions between the European state and several West-African governments, especially military ones, as the French forces proved unable to contain the terrorist threat in the region.Talking about American policies in Africa, experts note that Washington seeks to counter growing Chinese influence on the continent – a recent example of such US efforts was the 2022 US–Africa Leaders’ Summit. Analysts underline that America is unlikely to succeed competing with China in Africa due to fundamental differences in approaches.Africa’Too Little, Too Late’: US Not ‘Flexible Enough’ to Compete With China in Africa, Experts Say22 December 2022, 06:00 GMT

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