YIDD Seminar on Yemeni-Eritrean Relations: “Good neighborly relations should overcome any transient or temporary differences.” [Archives:1997/45/Law & Diplomacy]

November 10 1997

The Yemeni Institute for the Development of Democracy (YIDD) kicks off today, Monday, 10th November a three-day seminar on Yemeni-Eritrean relations. According to Dr. Mohammed Al-Maitami, Chairman of the YIDD, the common elements binding the two neighbors should withstand any differences that may arise over territorial disputes. “It is normal for neighbors to have conflicting claims. But, their basic stake in good neighborly relations should overcome any temporary or transient differences,” he said. He also indicated that the YIDD, an institution dedicated to promoting democracy, would like to see the two countries resolve their differences in a democratic way. That statement basically describes the overall thrust of the seminar.
Many Yemeni and Eritrean officials and scholars are participating in the gathering. “We are hoping to announce the information of a Yemeni-Eritrean Friendship Association at the end of the seminar,” said Mr. Hamood Munassar, the Secretary General of the YIDD. “Even when politicians quarrel, intellectuals and opinion makers should be able to provide additional forums for more sober and long-term thinking,” he said.
The background against which the seminar is being held is the on-going dispute between the Republic of Yemen and the State of Eritrea over ownership of the Hunaish Archipelago, at the southern part of the Red Sea. The two countries have decided, following a limited military confrontation, to refer their dispute to international arbitration. Last month saw the handing-over of the files from the two sides, each supporting their claims.
“Although there is a problem between the two countries, this is no reason to let the dispute color all the aspects of our relations,” said Mr. Abdul-Raheem Mohsen, Secretary to the Popular Association for Yemeni-Eritrean Friendship, and a promoter of the seminar. “Of course, we as Yemenis would like to win the case and retrieve all the islands, because we sincerely believe they belong to Yemen. We can pursue all peaceful means to regain the islands, and at the same time work for better neighborly relations,” he added.
He also indicated that the world is at the threshold of a new era, which means that ‘our small countries should be better prepared to positively interact in a closely intertwined world environment’. Many papers are going to be presented by scholars from the two countries, which will be followed by open discussion of the issues. “We hope something tangible will come out of this seminar,” said Ahmed Al-Haj of YIDD.
By: Anwar Al-Sayyadi, Yemen Times.