Addis Abeba – The European Union said resuming its “strategic engagement with Ethiopia” requires the “sustained implementation” of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (CoHA), including through political dialogue. The block has also once again called for “an immediate and complete withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia.”
The EU suspended its budget support for Ethiopia in January 2021 over the war in Tigray. “We are ready to help, but unless there is access for humanitarian aid operators, the EU cannot disburse the planned budget support to the Ethiopian government,”EU’s High Representative, Josep Borrell, said at the time. After six months review, the EU Council held the block’s position and said in June 2022 that despite some progress, it was “not enough for the full normalization.”
EU reinforced its position with a new statement released yesterday and said that “concrete progress on the implementation of the ceasefire, unimpeded humanitarian access, and accountability for International Humanitarian Law and human rights violations and abuses, will allow the gradual reestablishment of the full spectrum of EU’s development cooperation and economic support.”
The block also called out, once again, for the “immediate and complete” withdrawal of Eritrean troops as part of the full compliance with the CoHA. “While underlining the importance of the 2000 Algiers Agreement and the 2018 Peace Declaration between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the EU reiterates its call for an immediate and complete withdrawal of Eritrean troops from Ethiopia” the EU said.
It also stated the “unimpeded humanitarian access to all in need and the full restoration of basic services in all areas” as “critical” while highlighting the importance of accountability and respect for human rights by calling for “an active, constructive and effective cooperation with national and international human rights mechanisms.”
Meanwhile, senior commanders of the Ethiopian federal government and Tigrayan forces adopted the Term of Reference (ToR) for Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mechanism for the implementation of the Permanent CoHA signed in Pretoria on 02 November.
As part of the Monitoring, Verification and Compliance Mechanism, the ToR signed by both parties sees the establishment of Joint Committee constituting one representative from each party, the IGAD and the AU high panel, and Team of African Experts (TEA) consisting 10 people.
According to the ToR document, the Joint committee is mandated to resolve violations of peace agreement and declaration of its implementation and oversee disarmament of TPLF combatants , among other things, whereas, the TEA is mandated to monitor, verify and report practical progresses of the implementation of the agreement including disarmament of Tigrayan combatants, withdrawal of Foreign and non-ENDF forces and humanitarian access.
The meeting took place amidst growing calls for the urgent deployment of AU’s monitoring and verification team, following exchanges of compliant from the federal government and Tigray regional state as well as continued reports of atrocities committed against Tigrayan civilians by both Eritrean and Amhara forces in areas they occupied.
On 05 December, Tigray’s topmost military commander General Tadesse Worede said that nearly 65% of Tigray armed combatants were disengaged from the front lines, and in a preceding presser he also noted that the disarmament of heavy weapons of the Tigrayan combatants is linked to Eritrean and Amhara forces withdrawal from the Tigray Region.
Both warring parties have been reaffirming their commitments to the implementation of the agreement but the absence of AU’s monitoring and verification team on the ground has made it difficult to measure progresses, which why the outcome of the latest Nairobi meeting is critical to the peace process.
Following the conclusion of the meeting the AU said, it commends both parties “for the positive confidence building measures since the signing of the CoHA and encourages them to continue with their efforts to restore peace, security and stability in Ethiopia”. AS