ASMARA (HAN) September 20. 2020. Public Diplomacy and Regional Stability Initiatives News. Monitoring Regional Issues. by Daniel Wedi Korbarin. Today, September 14, schools reopen in Italy while in Eritrea the historic Italian public school remains closed. The Italian Embassy in Asmara communicated this last August 31 with a decree: ” precautionary decree for the temporary closure of the all-inclusive Italian State Institute of Asmara“Signed by an” interim Chargé d’affaires “in which, after 14” Seen “, 6” Considered “, 1” acknowledged “, 1” aware “, 1” deemed “finally” decreed “the temporary closure of the school. A historical school which, opened in 1903, survived fascism, the two world wars, the arrival of the British, that of the Ethiopians of the Negus Haile Selassie and then that of Colonel Menghistu Hailemariam. A school that has resisted during the 30 years of the Liberation War and which in 1993 saw the birth of a nation where it taught for 27 years.

I am a witness. I was a student of this school which allowed me to learn the Italian language thus managing to express my creativity in writing and I am somewhat sorry to see its closure, seeing in this the desire to deny my same opportunity to other students. So I ask myself: why, after all the governments that have followed one another in Italy over 117 years, did it fall to the Conte II government to remove the oxygen from the last beautiful and functioning Italian thing left on African soil? What happened that was so dramatic that a school had to be closed? An Italian-Eritrean armed conflict perhaps?

Is it really how the propaganda of Avvenire wrote that with its hundredth anti-Eritrean article blames its “ugly and bad” government? And this time what will Isaias Afewerki have done to bring about such a drastic decision, leaving thousands of students for a walk after so many years of sacrifice themselves and their families? Over the years, in fact, the MAE has cut funds and the Italian school was no longer totally free. If the Eritrean government were so “ferocious”, as portrayed by the Italian media, the school would have closed much earlier, why wait until 2020? Even reading the two and a half pages of the decree of the Embassy of Italy we understand that the trend is always the same. Identical system used by France towards its former colonies, that is to blame for everything on the Africans themselves and always come out clean. Never any self-criticism on one’s own work or on the failure to comply with the bilateral agreements between Rome and Asmara of 2012 that Italy has never honored.

Alas, Italian politics deliberately ignores its colonial history, a subject that has become taboo even in its school books, a past that is embarrassing but which they cannot erase with a swipe of the sponge because it cost the Eritrean people so much pain and so many deaths. This ruling class has no gratitude towards the Eritrean askari who by the hundreds of thousands gave their lives following the Italic expansionist aims in Libya, Somalia and Ethiopia. No gratitude even to the children and grandchildren of the askari who never asked for any compensation for those lives that later cost thirty years of war with Ethiopia with over 100,000 victims, no gratitude for having forgiven the betrayal towards the Eritrean people when with their economic aid they allowed the notorious colonel Menghistu Hailemariam to bombard them with napalm. During those terrible years in which the Eritreans escaped the bombs, Italy did not recognize the very few who arrived with refugee status and many pretended to be Somalis to have residence documents. That ruling class preferred instead to stick their heads in the sand so as not to hear the cries of pain of the children and grandchildren of the massacred askari.

Instead, they should have memorized the words of their illustrious fellow citizen Amedeo Guillet: “ The Eritreans were splendid. All we can do for Eritrea will never be what Eritrea did for us ”.

Since 1941, the year of the Italian defeat in Africa and the consequent abandonment of its colonies, the only real thaw of the relationship between the two countries occurred with the visit of the Premier Conte in 2018 following the declaration of peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea. A historical moment in which Italy really seemed to have “woken up” from the oblivion in which it had lived for a long time. A year and a half ago the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Emanuela Del Re [1] , who visited that school and that city in December 2018, was so enthusiastic that she declared in an interview with Eritrea Profile: ” I would like to bring the my children here in Eritrea, so the next visit will be a family visit”Even promising the extension of the training course with the linguistic high school [2] .
Where did those promises go? What has changed in such a short time?

It is known that the Eritrean government is not the usual African government that becomes a doormat in front of Western interlocutors, it has shown this in the last twenty years. In fact, in order not to kneel as others do, it has suffered two US sanctions, several attempts at regime change and the terrible war of migrants in which Europe, Italy in the first place, has turned into a “refugee factory “To empty Eritrea of ​​its young people and weaken it and then blackmail it. But Eritrea, like the Phoenix, has risen from its ashes and also won all these battles. His message to the world, which Italian “experts” fail to grasp, was: “ We are no longer your askari! 

Today the Italian diplomatic failure is more blatant, since the old guards at the Farnesina do not grasp the reality of the facts. They do not want to understand that the nefarious times of colonialism are now over. They should show some humility in order to build an egalitarian relationship between the two countries that is based on mutual respect and do away with that really annoying paternalistic attitude. And should they choose to cancel all diplomatic relations with Eritrea, it will find other European partners with whom to do business but Italy would lose another strategic place in Africa after it was ousted from Libya to the advantage of France and Turkey. . However, it would be the umpteenth failure of Italian foreign policy as well reported by the Huffingtonpost [1], especially today that Eritrea has become the navel of the Horn of Africa for the new cooperation agreements with Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. So Italy risks being removed and left with a fistful of flies in hand for the same rule that says: ” my friend’s enemy is also my enemy “.

The lack of farsightedness of Italian foreign policy in the African continent is also the daughter of the advice of self-styled “geopolitics experts” most of them trained at Bocconi but whose studies and preparation leave much to be desired. They certainly do not help young ministers to get an idea of ​​reality. Just to name one, which prides itself on being # 1 in the “Think Tank to Watch” world and # 15 among the 141 best European Think Tanks, ISPI (Institute for International Political Studies ) writes on its website: ” ISPI’s research activity is aimed at the rigorous and impartial analysis of the geopolitical, strategic and economic dynamics of the international system, also with the aim of making proposals for policy “. And it is on this ” rigorous and impartial analysis ” that I have serious doubts

After reading all their fake studies on Eritrea I have more than a few doubts about everything else. The average Italian reader would not have the tools to deny them and these self-styled experts certainly do not help him to read well the reality of what is happening in that corner of the world, being focused on the immigrant-counting lens. Instead of evaluating the benefits that peace in the Horn of Africa will bring in terms of economic development and jobs for young people, they are concerned that peace will block and hinder immigration. In addition to dozens of articles, they recently also produced a video in which they express their concern that the exodus is over.

An ISPI title on peace reads as follows: “Peace has ‘broken out’ between Ethiopia and Eritrea. And now? ” [1]having chosen such an adjective already in the title (because wars or bombs always break out) you can imagine the content. The same ISPI analyst five months later in another article [2] writes ” … many suspect that, now that relations have changed significantly, the Ethiopian government may rethink its policy towards Eritrean refugees, also in view of the planned closure of several refugee camps. The apprehension is also shared by those who had arrived previously, fearful that peace could result in a lack of access to refugee status and, consequently, hinder the resettlement process in third countries or interfere with their migration project ”

An ISPI analyst journalist, Enrico Casale, on Africa Rivista in October 2017 gave a false news ” 28 dead in clashes between young people and the security forces, at least 28 people would have died, and a hundred would have been injured (the number of victims and of the injured has never been officially communicated) ” [3]. The news was immediately denied, obviously there was no death. Ten thousand Eritreans residing in Italy still have someone in Eritrea, everyone has a telephone at home, there are Internet Cafes, wi-fi, messenger, Whatsapp, Zoom, Viber, Youtube, Paltalk. We Eritreans of the diaspora know everything that happens in our country before and better than the other self-styled “Africanists”, “analysts” and “geopolitical experts” in the West. The zealous journalist was then forced to rectify by the Eritrean Community in Italy and two years later republish the same false news on the ISPI page. So whoever you want to notice!

But the “crème de la crème” of the ISPI analysts from the Horn of Africa is Lia Quartapelle, Deputy Pd, Foreign Commission. The same one that on the occasion of the celebration of Eritrea’s first 25 years was so little diplomatic to write an article [4] spoilsport. The same that in a parliamentary question [5] of October 2017 hoped: ” … the renewal of the sanctioning regime against Eritrea, which will take place during the Italian presidency of the UN Security Council … ” .

In January 2019, in another question [6] he underlined “the need to guarantee the recognition of the right of asylum in Italy to Eritrean citizens who request it as long as civil liberties are not guaranteed and compulsory military conscription in the country of origin is abolished “. After the euphoria of the new diplomatic path between Italy and Eritrea, the situation between the two countries seems to have once again stalled, leading to the closure of the Italian school. Playing the game “find the intruder” we discover that behind the scenes there is the change of the Executive that took place with the fall of the yellow-green government (20 August 2019) and the birth of the Giallorossi government, that is the Conte II government ( 5 September 2019).

In Italy, famous in the world for its governments that fall like bowling pins every six months or at most a year, the League was replaced with the Democratic Party, which immediately took over the Ministry of the Interior and immediately reopened the ports. According to my well-documented experience in the field of immigration, I can affirm, without fear of being proven wrong, that the PD was the party that in the last ten years more than any other has exploited the phenomenon of migration from Africa, especially that from my Country. Most of the professionals, institutions, NGOs, volunteers, who deal with immigration are linked to the PD which has placed its members and sympathizers in all the reception camps, receiving in return a considerable political consensus.

The inexperience of the young politicians of the M5S could only succumb to the cunning of those who for decades have been able to navigate in murky waters (we will have confirmation of this in the next regional elections). This new government agreement, inevitably, could only have a negative impact on the peace path in the Horn of Africa.

After all, how can one expect to build a friendship between two states if one of the two (Italy of the PD) under the table wants to transform the young citizens of the other into refugees by favoring illegal immigration to do economic and political business? Which country can you trust such a partner? The PD sees Eritrea as the seedbed of immigration and, in order to continue to exist politically, it needs continuous landings to engage its electorate, with the halo in its head, in welcoming. They shed crocodile tears, with the complicit media, and accuse the African government of brutality of all kinds to prevent it from fighting the phenomenon of immigration. This is yet another form of ingratitude because, instead of being transformed into “refugees”, grandchildren of askari should be able to legally enter Italy with full honors and without the need for any visa. Eritreans should feel in Italy as in a second homeland. Instead, ask your Asmara embassy how many visas are denied to Eritreans who would also have very valid reasons for family reunification to come to Italy. But no, the Democrats apparently want them to keep coming here in death boats.

The Democratic Party, as well as some extremist figures who in the past proposed to demolish the monuments of the fascist era, poorly digested the 2017 declaration of Asmara as a UNESCO heritage site, believing it was built by the fascists and demonstrating once again the ingratitude towards the Eritrean government who silently worked for over 16 years to ensure that Asmara became a World Heritage Site. Now they want to close the Italian school believing they will be able to erase the past but they delude themselves because history remains with all its opprobrium and cannot be forgotten, at most we can live with it.

In the end, just as it is said that all roads lead to Rome, it could be said that now any topic in Italy leads to Immigration so I wonder: the Conte government has thought about what the closure of the Italian school in Asmara means for those thousands of guys who have invested years of their studies in order to legitimately aspire to the diploma?

Did the Conte government foresee the consequences if they wanted to want that diploma at all costs?

What will those kids be willing to do?

Who will have the financial possibilities will be able to move to Addis Ababa where there is another Italian school but the others?

Isn’t the Conte government afraid of having turned thousands of young people into potential “refugees” who might think of heading by desert and sea to come to Italy with the hope or stubbornness of completing their studies?

The attitude of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sounds very strange which, showing indifferent to the various letters, appeals and parliamentary questions in favor of the reopening of the school, instead signs an agreement with Caritas, UNHCR and with 11 universities including that of Bologna and the Luiss of Rome to offer self-styled Eritrean refugees present in Ethiopia, people who do not even speak Italian, a master’s degree program by transforming “humanitarian corridors” into “university corridors”. Instead, Eritrean boys who attended high school even with excellent grades do not even grant a scholarship.

What is the Conte government’s message to the students of the Italian school in Asmara? Try your luck in Ethiopia, become “refugees” that we then pick you up with the Caritas plane?


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