Eritrea's Warnings were Heeded
Oct 1, 2003
Many outsiders might have been surprised by Meles' letter of rejection
of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) Decision. The
Eritrean people? Definitely not! More importantly not the Eritrean
For the past 18 months President Isaias and the Government have
been telling the Eritrean public, the diplomatic community and the
world at large that Ethiopia has not accepted the EEBC Decision
and had no intention of doing so. They have been appealing to the
international community to take action on Ethiopia for her refusal
to accept the unanimous and "final and binding" Decision.
The UN Secretary General, the Presidency of the European Union,
the African Union's President Joaquim Chissano and before him South
Africa's Tabo Mebki, President Bush, Prime Minister Blair and others
have received not only one, but in some cases more than three letters
each. The letters were pleading with these leaders to encourage
Ethiopia to act responsibly. They should tell her, in no uncertain
terms, to pursue the path of peace rather than war. Alas none of
Eritrea's advance warning was heeded. We are where we are now because
of the world's inaction against Ethiopia's violations coupled with
the minority regime's irrational behavior.
President Isaias' interviews and public speeches are also clear
on how Eritrea was think these past months. The President was right
on the money in predicting what Meles and Co. were doing and will
be doing. Here is a sample from the president's speeches in the
past six months. More importantly, the full text of the President's
letter to the UN Secretary General from September 3, 2003 is reproduced
in its entirety here. These will show you how well Eritrea had read
the TPLF's mind.
12th Independence Anniversary Message, May 24, 2003
"The TPLF regime, which had unleashed the unjustified war
in the first place, however continues to concoct endless obstructions
to impede the demarcation process and reverse the boundary decision
that it had publicly accepted as "final and binding".
"The TPLF claims not to be satisfied with the decision and
as far as it is concerned, its war agenda remains intact. But the
fact is, there was no good-faith border dispute in the first place
that could have led to war. ... Neither was it the TPLF's goodwill
and desire to resolve the conflict legally that led to the formation
of the Boundary Commission. The TPLF's underlying motive for unleashing
the war was neither a dispute over Badme nor some other border issue.
The TPLF's singular objective was to inflict military humiliation
on the Eritrean people and dehumanise them, frustrate their efforts
for economic development and prosperity, and reduce them to a third/fourth-class
people and country. ... War has not produced the outcome that the
TPLF craved for. Arbitration has not appeased its insatiable appetite.
This is precisely why the TPLF is currently engaged in devising
all sorts of obstructions to reverse the decision of the Boundary
"In the past few weeks, the TPLF has continued with intensity
to peddle various pretexts as part and parcel of its efforts to
impede the implementation of the decision. At times, the preferred
ploy is to appeal "for transferring legal jurisdiction of the
dispute to the United Nations" because "the Boundary Commission
has failed to accommodate its concerns". At other times, the
appeal hinges on "appreciating the political difficulties that
the TPLF is facing because the Ethiopian people have not accepted
the decision of the Boundary Commission". Other ruses include:
deliberate distortion of selective paragraphs in the Framework Agreement;"
"In brief, the TPLF regime is engaged in an intense diplomatic
campaign, conducting almost daily briefings to the diplomatic community
in Addis Abeba and carrying out similar activities worldwide to
undermine the decision. There are those who argue that if the ongoing
efforts to change the decision of the Boundary Commission fail,
the TPLF has no alternative but to again unleash war and occupy
Asmara at any cost as this can win popular support!"
"The Algiers Peace Agreement has no loopholes that can be exploited
to dilute the "final and binding" nature of the court
ruling. The United Nations, which was a witness in the signature
of the Agreement in Algiers and represented by the Secretary General,
or any other party, has no legal or moral authority to change the
Interview with the BBC, May 2003
"I can only say the war situation prevails, despite the fact
that last year in April the Boundary Commission gave its verdict.
The decision was final and binding, according to the agreement signed
in Algiers. But the government in Ethiopia is reluctant to accept
that. It has tried to influence the decision of the Boundary Commission
which is the court decision."
"The government in Ethiopia has asked the United Nations to
intervene and violate the decision of the boundary commission. This
is none of the business of the United Nations. The Secretary General
of UN was present in Algiers when we signed the agreement and said
the decision of the boundary commission would be final and binding.
It is final and binding."
Interview with Eritrean Radio (April 18, 2003)
"There are also those who say: Let us not waste our time arguing
with the boundary commission or the UN, and call for a new mediation
that will enable us to talk about the port of Assab as a main component
and forget about Badme, Zela Ambesa or Tserona. They say: This can
help us to come out of the political crisis we are in, because many
Ethiopians can support us and it will be easy for us to go to war.
"There is also a group that says: We were unable to succeed
despite putting forward all the arguments and despite the haggling.
We did what we could to have the border ruling changed. We tried
to secure support from the superpowers, but all in vain. We secured
some sympathy, but we could not have the decision changed. We should
try to have the case taken to the UN, and if this fails, we should
create a precarious situation by saying we will never leave Badme."
"There are some ambassadors in Addis Ababa and some representatives
of governments abroad - I'm not mentioning names - who say the Ethiopian
government is in a major political crisis. They say the problems
in Ethiopia are worse than yours [than in Eritrea]. They say [Prime
Minister] Meles has serious problems and there will be anarchy in
Ethiopia if Meles is toppled. Ethiopia's disintegration will have
repercussions on you [Eritrea]. Thus, they ask for an accommodation
[last word in English]."
"But this will only complicate the matter. It is unacceptable,
because it breaks the law. These are utterances made by various
people who consider themselves to be ambassadors or representatives
of various countries or the UN. There are also calls for direct
and indirect talks aimed at confidence building, but we say a verdict
is a verdict. You cannot talk to change a verdict. Regarding the
political problems in Ethiopia, the government there should be able
to solve them on its own. A verdict is a verdict and we cannot be
a scapegoat at this stage for Ethiopia's internal political crisis."
Letter to Kofi Annan (September 3, 2003)
"Dear Mr. Secretary General,
"Allow me to extend to you my best wishes for good health
and success in your heavy international responsibilities. Let me
also avail of the occasion to express again our utmost sadness at
the tragic death of Mr. Sergio de Mello, your special envoy to Iraq."
"Mr. Secretary General,
"As you are aware, the war that Ethiopia unleashed against
my country in 1998 under the false pretext of a "dispute over
Badme", - that inculcated a huge loss of human life and a massive
dislocation of our people - has attained a legal resolution through
the award of the Boundary Commission of 13 April 2002. This was
in accordance with the Algiers Agreement that was blessed with Your
Excellency's personal presence and signature."
"But notwithstanding the explicit provisions of the Algiers
Agreement on the final and binding nature of the decision, Ethiopia
continues to resort, with impunity, to the law of the jungle to
defy the Boundary Commission's decision and to obstruct its implementation.
Ethiopia's reckless and illegal acts have aggravated the plight
of thousands of our citizens who remain dislocated from their home
villages and condemned to live in makeshift camps under appalling
conditions. Ethiopia is even sponsoring acts of terror and subversion
to create a climate of fear and confusion. And yet, for reasons
we fail to understand, the international community, and especially
the United Nations, continues to act as a bystander to tolerate
"What we particularly find mind boggling at this juncture
are notions of "confidence-building" and "early rapprochement".
These ideas are apparently being peddled by Ethiopia so as to undermine
the implementation of the boundary decision. Eritrea cannot possibly
be expected to contemplate normalisation of bilateral ties when
our sovereign territory remains occupied and when our people are
denied their inalienable right to return to their home villages
and slowly heal the scars of war? Putting the cart before the horse
will not solve but rather compound the problem."
"The suffering of our people and their disillusionment is worsening
with time; especially the situation of those who are languishing
in makeshift camps under extremely harsh physical conditions for
almost five years now. Unjustified delays and postponements of demarcation,
which can only exacerbate these sufferings, cannot be acceptable
morally and from a humanitarian perspective. The costs that will
be borne in the next ten months or so until demarcation is completed,
if ever, in June 2004 in accordance with the new time-table cannot
be rationalised. Indeed, there is no reason why the United Nations
should foot a bill to the tune of quarter billion dollars a year
to maintain a precarious peace that is increasingly becoming tenuous."
"Mr. Secretary General,
"The United Nations has primary responsibility for upholding
justice. We particularly expect the UN to extend all possible support
to end the sufferings of our people due to Ethiopia's illegal occupation.
We see no reason why those who are flouting international law are
accommodated or rewarded. In this spirit, I appeal to you, Mr. Secretary
General, to see to it that the United Nations takes the necessary
legal measures to uphold international law and ensure expeditious
demarcation of the border."
"Accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest esteem.
President, the State of Eritrea
H.E. Kofi A. Annan
The United Nations."