President Isaias' speech on the occasion of
anniversary of Independence Day - May 24 2009
President Isaias Afwerki - Independence Day
Ceremonies Asmara. Stadium.
Dear Compatriots inside Eritrea as well as abroad
Distinguished Participants and Guests
Allow me to extend my warmest congratulations to the entire people of Eritrea on this auspicious day. Let me also express my profound gratitude to all those who contributed to the exuberant festivities that have been going on throughout the week and that have amplified the boundless joy and pride we all feel on this special day.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
You may recall the observations I made on a number of issues of paramount importance in my speech during the celebrations of our independence anniversary last year. One of those issues was the question of "virtual demarcation" and the impediments and misinformation perpetrated at the time by the outgoing US Administration. All those ploys have failed and are almost forgotten now. What remains, and which does not perturb us much, is the simple matter of ascertaining our inviolable rights to the liberation of our sovereign territories that are still occupied.
In my speech last year, I also elaborated on the observations I had made previously during our independence anniversary in 2005 in regard to the prevalent international developments. As I stressed last year, the reckless policies pursued by a "special interest" group in the United States who believed that they were entrusted with a "providential mission" to shape "their own world order" had given rise to the eruption of violent conflagrations in various parts of the world. This had, in turn, entailed immense destruction, spiraling economic crises and an overall bleak trend that was fraught with dangerous consequences.
Fortunately, the dangerous trend set in motion by the "special interest group" aroused a heightened concern and sensitization of international public opinion to bolster their strong reaction and to engender a revolution of a new kind. It is against this backdrop that the American people, who were invariably affected by these reckless policies, elected Barack Obama to the White House in a testimony of their rejection of arrogance and to bring about change.
Although the broad contours of the change have been indicated, and the prevailing good will pronounced, its specific contents have not yet been clarified. The most critical questions are: how will change be effected? And, will it be at all possible?
The "special interest" groups are frantically employing the clout and influence they had, and still possess, to prevent change from occurring; to obstruct and roll back change; and above all, to mislead the new Administration and influence it to advance their interests. To this end, they have unleashed a new war by deploying all the weapons and ammunitions in their arsenal and by altering their
colours, methodologies and "lobbies". Whether the goodwill of the new Administration will succeed or not will indeed be determined by the outcome of the struggle. One of the factors that will compound the challenge is the enormity of the global crisis and the formidable hurdles it poses. The theatre where this confrontation is waged is not also situated in the United States alone but in vast areas in the world as well as in several fields. These additional dimensions of the problem only accentuate the depth of its severity.
If we scrutinize the acts of the "special interest" groups in our region, they have unleashed an intensive smear campaign by peddling lies through their multiple media outlets and lobbyists. They have been very active throughout spring to stifle the policy "changes" that may be embarked by the new US Administration and in order to mislead it and derail any possible positive action. They are misconstruing the "threat of terrorism" that they deliberately fanned in the first place, as a convenient pretext and instrument of intimidation, in order to divert attention from, and prevent the resolution of, the main problems. They had refined this tool as an internalized habit for decades and the old trick is being resuscitated vigorously these days. The various acts and campaigns that they are instigating outside our region hour by hour are not different either, in substance, from the pattern described above.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On propitious occasions of our independence anniversary, it is appropriate for us to examine in depth critical international developments that may impact on our domestic and regional realities. The purpose of the exercise is to take stock of these trends and formulate policies and plans that shore up our
endeavours. Trying to gauge today whether present international realities correspond with our profound desire for change is thus rooted in this perspective and practice. Our hope is that the change promised on a global scale, and especially in the United States, is genuine indeed. This is also a universally shared hope.
Hopes and aspirations are however subjective dispositions and cannot be assumed as realized unless and until they are accompanied by tangible and quantifiable changes on the ground. To give hasty and emotional judgment on the grounds of promises and trends and to raise high expectations on a process which is barely starting will also be imprudent and unrealistic. We shall not thus expect miracles or solutions on a silver platter in an unrealistic fashion. We shall follow developments with the necessary patience and caution.
To follow developments with patience and caution does not mean that we shall remain in a passive mode as bystanders with folded hands. The policy of "constructive engagement" that we have publicly announced indeed means an active, constructive, engagement. This active initiative will be direct. It will not be conducted through intermediaries and lobbyists. Furthermore, we must be wary that our sincere disposition for constructive engagement is not misconstrued and taken for granted to lead to "blackmail," or used as a bargaining chip for imposing pre-emptive
We shall thus continue to undertake relentless action without undue haste, and, by refining our objective reading of the developments that unfold. This approach is vital as we do not also harbour any hidden agenda or have issues that we are particularly worried about.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I shall not dwell on burning regional issues. Indeed, I know that you have been closely following recent developments whose details have also been described extensively in the media in the past days.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
To closely follow and assess international developments will only help us to gauge the impact of external factors. It will not otherwise relegate the domestic situation to the back burner. Our primary task remains the identification of our domestic priorities and tasks and the carrying out of our homework.
In spite of the harvest shortfall that occurred in 2008, we shall continue to pursue the priority task of food security that we have embarked on. In this regard, we shall continue to pursue this year the policies of price subsidy as well as prudent patterns of consumption to ensure better outreach and equitable distribution. But beyond the issues of supply and distribution, and without ignoring the adequacy of rainfall which is not under our control, we shall redouble our efforts for agricultural development by subsidizing and rationalizing the supply of fuel. The new and extensive agricultural projects we had sought to develop this year in the Northern and Southern Red Sea Administrative Zones have been shelved due to input constraints and the re-arrangement of priorities. Nonetheless, we intend to undertake the necessary preparations this year in order to ensure the full implementation of these projects in 2010.
The development of our marine resources is another task that must be pursued in parallel with our agricultural development projects. We shall consequently improve the modest achievements of last year aimed at increasing supply of fish to the domestic market, and undertake the necessary preparations in order to increase the annual harvest as well as expand the marketing outlets towards the end of this year.
In conjunction with the planned and ongoing agricultural development projects for the promotion of food security, we intend to install supply of electricity in most areas of the Gash
Barka, Southern Red Sea and Northern Red Sea Administrative Zones. These grids will start in the most important centers and expand and become interconnected with time. The supply of potable water will go in tandem with these projects. All these projects, important as they are, mainly depend on thermal energy with its attendant, rather high, cost implications. The new approach is thus mainly hinged on the phased introduction and expansion of solar and wind sources of energy.
On infrastructural projects, we shall mainly focus this year on implementing the most critical projects as a matter of priority. We will further proceed to complete preparations for those bigger projects that cannot be implemented this year due to various constraints.
There are evidently other important sectors that have not been put on the first category in terms of time-bound prioritization. Our educational
programs aimed at producing skilled and productive manpower and that will have tangible contributions in the effective implementation of all the projects described above, as well as, our health programmmes that have been rendering relatively excellent services, shall be expanded both in quantitative and qualitative terms as priorities that cannot be shelved.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to thank the Eritrean Armed Forces who have made memorable contributions to the achievements we have gleaned in the past 18 years of independence in all sectors and fronts, the Eritrean people inside the country as well as those who reside abroad, all the Ministries and Administrative Zones, the social associations, various companies as well as our friends and partners. At the present time, the challenges we face are less than the opportunities available. We must therefore increase our efforts and pace to a forward march.
May we be blessed with a good rainy season!
Glory to our Martyrs!
Victory to the Masses!