Statement of the Foreign Ministry on the Report of the Secretary General

The Report of the UN Secretary General of 3 January 2006 is appalling in many respects. Its ingrained bias against Eritrea and avid desire to dwell on relatively secondary and inconsequential issues while glossing over Ethiopia's grave violations of international law that precipitated the current crisis in the first place la very apparent indeed. The Report makes cursory reference to Ethiopia's "refusal to fully accept, without preconditions, the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission, the forward deployment of Ethiopian troops since December 2004 and violations of the Temporary Security zone". But its scathing criticisms and indictment are reserved for Eritrea.

The sad truth is all this commotion could have been avoided and prevented had Ethiopia honoured its treaty obligations and had the UN Security Council shouldered its responsibilities. Indeed, this should not have been the time to lament on "the helicopter ban" and "'other restrictions on freedom of movement" of UNMEE. UNMEE should and could have fulfilled its mission and wind down its operations with crowing success a long time ago. But for reasons which. defy explanation, Ethiopia was allowed to repeatedly violate the Algiers Peace Agreement and the Charter of the United Nations bringing us where we are today.

The Secretary General's Report applauds Ethiopia for its new found "compliance" and confirms that "Ethiopia had completed the planned withdrawal of eight of its Divisions from forward positions". The Report goes further to vouch for Ethiopia's "non-belligerent" demeanour by asserting: "Most of the Ethiopian forces presently deployed in the border area appear to have a defensive posture. To acquire any large-scale offensive capability, Ethiopia would need to bring back, much closer to the southern boundary of the Temporary Security Zone".

These sweeping statements raise more questions than answers. How can Ethiopia project a peaceful or defensive posture while forcibly occupying the sovereign territories of its neighbour in flagrant violation of the Algiers Peace Agreement and the UN Charter? If Ethiopia has indeed moved back eight divisions, what are the logistical hurdles it will face and how long will it take it to bring them back, or additional forces for that matter, stealthily or otherwise? Why was not Ethiopia reprimanded and requested to rescind its move when it resorted to a provocative act of sabre rattling in the first place in December 2004 in flagrant violation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement? And any way, why should Ethiopia be patted on the back today for "rescinding" an illegal move that it took in December 2004?

If Ethiopia's putative redeployment of some troops is being applauded purely in relation to Security Council Resolution 1640, this only highlights the imbalance and unfairness of the Resolution itself. It does not, otherwise, herald Ethiopia's unequivocal, even if belated, decision to abide by the Algiers Agreement. The letter of Ethiopia's Foreign Minister of 23 December 2005, to which the Report alludes, makes that plainly clear.

We are thus confronted by the incongruous possibility in which the party that has flouted international law, that has breached the Algiers Peace Agreement and the Charter of the United Nations time and again, and, that has ignored repeated Security Council Resolutions is let off the hook while the aggrieved party is threatened with condemnation and punitive measures. The least one can say is this is a parody of international justice that cries for remedy.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
9 January 2006