Eritrea real clear politics's Weblog

April 4, 2009

EU to approve €122m in funding for Eritrea

Filed under: News — eritrearealclearpolitics @ 7:25 am

Eritrea to be given development aid despite the

country’s poor human-track record.

The EU was last night (1 April) set to approve €122

million for Eritrea from the European Development

Fund, despite concerns raised by several member

states about the impoverished country’s human rights

record. Diplomats and European Commission officials

left little doubt that the funding would be approved. The

EU is Eritrea’s largest donor by far.

Country strategy

EU governments’ representatives were originally

scheduled to approve last week (25 March) a country

strategy for Eritrea drafted by the Commission, under

which the country would be granted €122m until 2013.

But to avoid pre-empting a discussion about the political

situation in Eritrea by the EU’s working group on Africa,

which took place on the same day, they delayed the

decision until yesterday (1 April). The Commission will

be able to start implementing the country strategy if no

member state opposed it by the end of the day.

Jailed journalist

The decision was preceded by a campaign in Swedish

newspapers for journalist Dawit Isaak, a dual citizen of

Sweden and Eritrea who has been imprisoned in Eritrea

without trial since 2001. Reporters without Borders put

Eritrea last in its reports on media freedom for 2007 and

2008, just behind North Korea. The European

Parliament demanded Isaak’s release in a resolution

adopted in January and asked the EU to reconsider its

approach to Eritrea unless progress was made. A

diplomat said that the Swedish government had

provided a positive response to the Commission’s

strategy, however.

A spokesperson for Louis Michel, the European

commissioner for development aid, said that while the

human rights situation in Eritrea was of “great concern”

to the Commission, “engagement is the best response

and we keep our policy under review”.€122m-in-funding-for-eritrea/64480.aspx

By Tobu Vogel 02.04.2009 / 04:55 CET




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