Eritrea, reported as having the highest rate of economic growth in the world, is demonized and targeted for destabilization by the US.
Press TV on its program Double Standards has interviewed the President of Eritrea Isaias Afewerki about the challenges faced by Eritrea from its neighbors and from US hegemonic powers. He also shares his views on the global financial crisis and how this is being faced by Western governments.
What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Welcome to Double Standards Mr. President. We only arrived in Eritrea in the past few hours, we haven’t seen that much of it yet, but one thing is for sure, the mainstream media right around the world hates your country; hates everything to do with it. Why do you think they hate Eritrea so much?
President Afewerki: It’s part of their psyche. They talk about tolerance; they talk about freedoms; they talk about independence; they talk about sovereignty; they talk about security, interests and values.
If anyone raises a voice against their real nature in spite of the pretensions, then you are an enemy.
The machine they have for this information is so huge. Your machine is relatively insignificant and given that imbalance, all of these lies and distortions – How much time can you afford to address these issues for a small nation like Eritrea that is one of the youngest of nations building its own infrastructure, focusing on real issues.
Press TV: Of course, media manipulation, public relations, is one side of the coin, there is an even arguably more serious aspect to this, which is of course, military aid.
And we’ve seen in developing nation’s destabilization using military means. How would you characterize, as we approach the US elections, the end of the Obama term? President Obama has been stepping up military aid to Ethiopia. Is Eritrea more or less worried?
President Afewerki: Not at all. This has been the case for quite some time. If you go back to the history of this nation we can say we fought for thirty years.
Press TV: One region recently that has been throwing off that US hegemonic idea has been characterized by the name of ‘Arab Spring’. First of all, what was your immediate reaction to those that had been supported by the US leaving power recently?
President Afewerki: It’s Machiavellian because it is so contradictory.
Press TV: But they supported Mubarak in Egypt, if we take Egypt…
President Afewerki: Yes that’s where it comes from… when it supported their interests they will support anyone. When they fear it is changing?
And this they were caught by surprise. These situations have been accumulating for so long. They’ve been proud of their policies of supporting these regimes and finally it explodes. People in the streets come out like Wall Street; many places in Europe… it’s phenomenal, it’s not only an Arab Spring. I don’t even call it an Arab Spring.
It’s part of the global situation created by the misguided policies that has made the poor poorer and special interest groups controlling everything.
Ultimately that polarization will have to lead to some kind of revolt – and people are revolting everywhere. It is not just in Africa, not just in Europe, it is everywhere. That is what we’ve been taught is globalization. Globalization is their own way that has created this explosive situation.
When it explodes and they see it suits their own interests they can shift 180 degrees and go and say they will support popular uprisings here and there. The question is why they were supporting those repressive systems and immediately we shift to the other side… What it is about? Is it about interests, is it about values? How can we understand these conflicting developments in a short time?
I think we don’t need to bother about how they’re behavior is based on their own culture on their own psychology, but we really need to really read what it going on and how do we benefit from this development. That is the focus. We shouldn’t be surprised to see these pretentious deceptions, contradictory positions every now and then. It is part of the culture.
Press TV: If you were in Libya, obviously so recently destabilized by NATO – masses of weapons now affecting Mali on that side; some elements in Cairo – we don’t know how the US is playing a role behind the scenes. We know that in East Africa the US continues to play its role… they haven’t taken their eye off the ball in these situations.
President Afewerki: I think you need to be patient and try to read the events not on a day to day or hour by hour basis, but you ought to give it time.
What you see in Libya, what you see in Egypt, what you see in Tunisia and other places… put yourself in the situation three or four years down the road and how would you expect things to evolve at that point in time.
And the trend is very obvious. If you track the day to day events and try to interpret every event then you will disillusion the body of reality. We’ll have to wait and see…the trend is so very obvious. We need to evaluate any situation taking stock of the basics – what are the basics?
Are people happy to satisfy the population that is in the uprising? Is the community result going to change the region or even a continent? And how does that link or connect to situations in Europe, the US, Asia? And how possibly can the people of this regime walk towards changing the reality they are living in – in the absence of organized political groups; in the absence of organizations that can lead; and in the absence of a clearly defined program for all these states…It’s a spontaneous explosion.
Spontaneous explosions have their cause. It is obvious that they are caused by the injustices we have witnessed over the past two or three decades… But is there a clearly defined program? Are people organized to achieve certain goals in a polite manner? In that case, that’s where we need to have time.
Things are changing. Injustices are intolerable. No human being, no community, no nation will bow to injustices. They may be intimidated for some time, they may be manipulated for one reason or another, but ultimately it doesn’t work, these are explosions, these are uprisings we see it happening. Where they go…
Press TV: Well, even when there was a big workers movement crises certainly in the 20th century led often to explosions that were fascistic, Mussolini’s fascists being an example of that.
Watching events in Europe where many European countries have been tied to what some of those individual powers are now saying is imperial… Being Eritrea, being so self-sufficient, what has been your perspective on this European crisis?
President Afewerki: I think it’s part of the global phenomenon – we shouldn’t be focusing on individual cases Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy… no, that’s not the case. This is a social, economic, political, and cultural system that is crumbling.
Initially it was seen as a model for everyone in spite of criticisms coming from here and there, criticisms that were hushed and everybody was forced to be silent by what they were telling us. Gradually, it is accumulating… it is accumulating, these parasitic systems that have lived on the resources of others through hegemonic control crises, managing conflicts here and there.
Now it’s a consumer society created over the last few decades. It is not easy to imagine that now there are solutions for the problem. Accumulating problems and suffering of people, people ought to know you can go and buy off credit cards, you can borrow money, you can do whatever you like; the sky is the limit.
Invisibly, things have been accumulating and now we can talk about numbers – debts of governments; fiscal mismanagement; the injustices in society; the perception that this is the best option for everyone and that individuals can get what they wish without even toiling for what they get. Ultimately that accumulates to become a time bomb.
Now, people are trying to manage or avoid the bomb this time from exploding, but I can imagine this is not a savable situation and you will see probably Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and others may come.