The following is the full text of the interview:
(Asharq Al-Awsat) Your vision on the security of the Red Sea is that it should be managed by the peoples of the region in order to avoid international interventions. Would you tell us about this vision?
(Afeworki) This issue does not need any elaboration; it is a necessity. It is a necessity imposed by the geography and the needs of the countries in the region as well as the needs of this international waterway. The responsibility of maintaining security in the Red Sea as a strategic water passage is one of the priorities of these countries. How should these countries deal with these priorities and necessities? No doubt, the will exists but it should be followed with coordination in light of the presence of good intentions in this direction. However, the matter needs groundwork and then a mechanism to coordinate relations. The capabilities may be more than what the circumstances require. However, the first step in the right direction requires the organization of the beginnings and then finding the mechanism. I am certain that the regional mechanism will be more effective than external interventions that bring their own problems. We in this region can do without external interventions.
(Asharq Al-Awsat) You have repeatedly talked about your position on the Arab League. But at one time, Eritrea was chosen as an observer country, which was a precedent in the Arab League, and you later became a full member. What is your position now as an observer in the Arab League?
(Afeworki) This was a step that we described as a “courtesy”. We do not wish to engage in an argument on this subject. Talking about it has become extremely boring. I believe that there is an Arab consensus – a consensus with inconsistent voices - that this organization (the Arab League) is no longer up to the level of the demands and aspirations of the peoples of this region. It no longer has the power or the resources to carry out the services required from it. This is not a shame nor is it insulting to the officials of the Arab League. But the situation in the region has become inconsistent regarding many issues in view of the external interventions. With its present capabilities, the Arab League no longer represents the aspirations of the peoples of this region in light of the lukewarm attitude and unanimous agreement in opinion on the weakness of this organization. Eritrea does not gain anything by being a member of the Arab League. As I just said, the issue of membership as an observer was a courtesy; there was no reason for us to be present in Cairo. Our brief experiment proved to us that this organization needs a great deal of reform to become of use to the peoples of the region.
(Asharq Al-Awsat) There is an Israeli Embassy in Asmara and an Eritrean Embassy in Tel Aviv. Some assumed that this gives Eritrea a positive role to play in the issue of Palestine, the central issue of the Arabs. How can you play such a role?
(Afeworki) This likelihood may be impossible. Eritrea has no wish to involve itself in an issue that is already complicated and that has become one of the most difficult issues in the region. Even big powers or countries that consider themselves as the most powerful in this region do not have the resources to contribute positively or to be influential in this process. The issue is not one of having an embassy here and an embassy in Tel Aviv. Your embassy may be in distant lands with which you may not have any relationship. The important and crucial point is that this issue should be resolved by its own people; the efforts of others come later. Overstepping on the capabilities of a country or interfering in solving this issue that has become so internationally complex that even super powers have not been able to find a solution to it would not bring a solution. There is nothing that encourages one to make initiatives for a solution. In my opinion, what is being propagated in the media or in diplomatic and political circles are sheer falsehoods. They are mere words on something that does not exist in the first place. In view of all these complications, Eritrea knows its place and its role. Yes, we may have certain political stands and opinions on certain matters. But, in my opinion, it would be impossible for Eritrea to try to find a solution to this issue or to contribute to loosening the knot of this problem... more...http://aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=3&id=16883