Can Only Undermine Peace
By Shaebia Staff
Mar 4, 2003, 7:38pm
It has now become starkly clear
that Ethiopia has refused to accept the April 2002 decision by an
international Boundary Commission delimiting its borders with Eritrea.
That decision unfairly gave Ethiopia land that is indisputably Eritrean.
But that has only whetted its appetite. Among additional Eritrean
territories, the irresponsible government in Addis Ababa is demanding
that it be given Badme, which was the pretext for launching its
war of aggression against Eritrea in May 1998.
Over the past year it has presented
spurious "legal, factual and humanitarian" reasons to
back its claims. These have been seen for what they are, by the
Boundary Commission and the international community, and rejected.
Undeterred, Ethiopia continues to
insist that the border decision, which it had committed itself to
accept as "final and binding", be changed. This is a flagrant
violation of the December 2000 Algiers Agreement, which ended the
Ethiopian war of aggression against Eritrea. Article 14 of the Agreement
gives the UN Security Council the authority to take measures against
the offending party under Article 7 of the UN Charter.
Ethiopia has not only rejected in
practice the boundary decision, it is willfully and systematically
sabotaging its implementation. Its obstructionist actions have put
back the demarcation process close to a year, resulting in losses
of several hundred million dollars to the international community.
More importantly, it has prevented the return to their homes of
over 60,000 displaced Eritreans, who continue to suffer in camps.
Moreover, Ethiopia has insolently
refused to implement the decision of the Boundary Commission ordering
it to remove Ethiopians it had settled in Eritrean territory after
the border decision. It has fired at UN peacekeepers and it is infiltrating
mercenaries to plant mines in the Temporary Security Zone, endangering
the lives of Eritrean citizens and UN peacekeepers alike, in order
to scuttle the demarcation process.
What has emboldened the reckless
regime in Addis Ababa to reject the border decision, violate the
Algiers Agreement, ignore the orders of the Boundary Commission,
and impede demarcation, is the reticence of the international community
to tell Ethiopia, in language that it can easily understand, that
enough is enough. True verbal communications, couched in diplomatic
language, have been communicated to Ethiopian officials. There also
have been a couple of written demarches, stating that the international
community considers the border decision "final and binding."
Based on past experience, however,
the Addis regime, calculates that what it is faced with is only
a bluff from the international community, and has made up its mind
to call the bluff. After all, nothing happened when it refused to
comply with the Commissions express order. Nothing in the UN Secretary
General's numerous reports or the statements and decisions of Security
Council took Ethiopia to task, preferring instead to farcically
"complement it for its commitment to the peace process."
Its gross violations of the human rights of the overwhelming majority
of its population continue to be glossed over. And more crucially,
generous and disproportionate aid continues to prop up an unpopular
and hated ethnic minority regime.
Ethiopia, therefore, reckons that
the international community will not have the will or the stomach
to condemn it and take meaningful measures to compel it to abide
by the Peace Agreement and the Border Decision. It believes that,
bar a few protestations, it can act with impunity. It is also confident
that it can play its magic card of "not putting pressure on
a government and a Prime Minister, who are facing acute political
It is odd that the refrain, which
we heard ad infinitum over the past few years, is once again on
many people's lips. Prime Minister Meles is once again said to be
in a fix. Yes, we are told, Meles accepts the decision. But not
so the hard-liners. (Never mind that the hard-liners have been defeated,
many rotting in jail, others harassed, persecuted, exiled). Consequently,
it is political suicide for Meles to go along with the border ruling.
He must be helped. Eritrea must show unlimited restraint.
The worn out refrain is misguided
on several accounts. The Prime Minister may be unpopular, but he
is not about to fall. The decision on Badme is not going to cause
his immediate political suicide. The main reasons for his unpopularity
go much deeper. They arise from his failure to correctly address
Ethiopia's profound problems, from his institution of a minority
ethnic regime, representing less than 5% of the population, which
has monopolized all power at the expense of the overwhelming majority
Whatever the causes of the Prime
Minister's and his government's difficulties, it is obvious that
the responsibility for their resolution lies on the shoulders of
the regime. They cannot and should not be mixed up with the border
decision. In our view, the only way to really help Meles is to persuade
him to quickly demarcate the border and focus on Ethiopia's real
problems. Indulging in any way, even indirectly, Meles's fantasies
about Badme and Eritrea, appeasing Ethiopia in its rejection of
the April decision will only undermine the peace and harm both Eritrea
As for Eritrea, it appreciates the
merits of restraint and has been impeccably restrained in the face
of repeated Ethiopian provocation and a far from adequate international
response. It strongly calls on the international community to take
timely and concrete action to convince Ethiopia that recklessness
will not pay. Even as it hopes that international action will stop
the unraveling of the peace, Eritrea owes it to its people to temper
its restraint with vigilance. With the memory of Ethiopia's surprise
declaration of war in May 1998 still fresh in our minds, anything
else would be inexcusable.
© Copyright 2001-2003 Shaebia.org