We met Ambassador Fesshazion Pietros at Expo Milano 2015 on Eritrea’s National Day. The meeting took place at the Arid Zones Cluster, inside the newly opened Eritrean Pavilion. Ambassador Fesshazion Pietros had recently returned to Italy, a land that he knows very well having completed his university studies here and having already been appointed a diplomat in previous years.
Mr. Ambassador, today Expo is celebrating Eritrea’s National Day which coincides with Eritrea’s Independence Day, a very important date….
Yes, this is a very important day for us. After 30 years of struggle and sacrifice (editor’s note: from 1961 to 1991) we eventually gained our independence. This is the reason why we consider it as the most important day of the year. You can see that a great many people participated in the celebration and there could have been even more if it had taken place in the afternoon as many of us, especially women, work in the mornings. Well, looking at the number of people present you understand how important this day is to us and that in Eritrea people are making things happen, not the government or the authorities.
It was really a very busy celebration and parade….
Everybody takes part in the independence celebration, men, women, young people and children….
The future of the country….
Absolutely. As we say, Eritrea’s wealth is its people, mostly young people. Even though, as you know, we are dealing with enormous problems because we have not yet succeeded in creating job opportunities for the young, although the government’s biggest investments have been made in the education sector. In Eritrea, education from Elementary School to College is entirely free of charge, this means the country invests in its youth, we hope young Eritreans understand this.
A last question. The theme of Expo Milano 2015 is “Feeding the planet, Energy for life”. Eritrea’s participation in the “Arid Zones” Cluster is important because, as it has been said, the country has a lot to teach us about how to face and overcome this particular challenge….
Eritrea is a young country and it still has a long way to go. Although much has been done when you consider Eritrea was not given the international support that other countries have received. However, anybody intending to observe and understand a country, should travel there and not rely upon hearsay. Travelling around Eritrea, you can see that we have dug wells, built large and small dams because you cannot produce food without water. Therefore the first thing to do was build dams, weirs and wells…and thanks to water basins downstream from the villages, women no longer have to walk 5, 6 or 7 kilometres to get water.
The Eritrean people wanted these changes and carried them out with the assistance of the government. This was a second liberation for us, after freedom from Ethiopia. Today Eritrean women are partially relieved of their domestic burden within the family unit. There is still a lot to do but we are on the right track, a woman can now find water 500 meters away from her house and that is a real source of pride for us. It is an important milestone but the rest of the world still needs to understand it and stop repeating the same old things.
Will Expo help know Eritrea better?
We hope so. This is the reason why we are here.