Facts in the Face of Fiction: No. 2

Here below is some of the fiction flowing from Addis Ababa, along with the facts to help you through the smoke screen to get to the truth.

On Means of Solving the conflict

• ETHIOPIA: "The Council of Ministers of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia government asked the Eritrean government I to desist from this provocative act and to pull out of the Ethiopian territory without any precondition. I If this is not complied with, then every action possible to safeguard the sovereignty of our country shall be taken, they sternly warned. " BBC, "Ethiopia urges Eritrea to pull out of "disputed" territory", Friday May 15, 1998.

• ERITREA: "The Government of Eritrea pledges that it will, as ever before, spare no efforts to handle the present problem with the requisite patience and responsibility. It does not, accordingly, see any wisdom in precipitating tension through inflammatory campaignsI.The Government of Eritrea therefore calls upon the Government of Ethiopia to pursue a similar path that will promote the interests and good neighborliness of the peoples of both countries. The Cabinet of Ministers of the Government of Eritrea further reasserts its belief that the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia will maintain and preserve their mutual interests rooted in peace, good neighborliness and co-operation." The Cabinet of Ministers of the Government of Eritrea, Asmara, May 14, 1998.

• FICTION: "UN Security Council Resolution supports Ethiopia."

• FACT: UN resolution in fact supports the Eritrean standP the use of force should be condemned and colonial boundaries and international treaties should be respected. "[The Security Council] Condemns the use of force and demands that both parties immediately cease hostilities and refrain from further use of force; I Urges the parties to exhaust all means to achieve a peaceful settlement of the dispute; I [C]alls upon the parties to avoid any steps which would aggravate tensions such as provocative actions or statements and to take steps to build confidence between them including by guaranteeing the rights and safety of each other's nationals." UN Security Council Resolution S/RES/1177 (1998).

• ETHIOPIA: 'What we will try to do if they don't withdraw is to ensure their invading army is removed from our territory and make sure a lesson will have been learned,'' Reuters quoting Meles "Ethiopia says will teach Eritrea a lesson", Matthew Bigg ,June 23

• ETHIOPIA: "If the Eritrean government withdraws we will solve the problem peacefully. If it does not withdraw then, without any doubt, we will force it to do so." "Meles briefs Parliament", Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ethiopia, Tue. 7 July 1998.

• ETHIOPIA: "Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on Thursday called on the country's defense force to uphold its valor to shatter and evict the invading Eritrean army." XINHUA, "Ethiopian Defense Force Urged to Uphold Valor" July 9, 1998.

• ETHIOPIA: "[Ethiopian Vice] Foreign Minister Takeda Alemu contended that mediation efforts by the US and the Organization of African Unity have not born fruit and requested Israel's assistance in resolving the conflict." The Jerusalem Post, July 29, 1998.

• ETHIOPIA: "The European Defense sources well versed in the affairs of the Horn of Africa have recently disclosed some information to the effect that Israel will shortly begin to supply Ethiopia with 10 Soviet MIG-21 fighter aircraft within the framework of Addis Ababa's current efforts to rebuild and reorganize its armed forces in preparation for a likely new round of fighting with its Eritrean neighborI. The I the improved MIG-21 I were originally Romanian fighters that the Israeli company was modernizing in Israel." BBC, Aug 8, 1998.

• ERITREA: "One aspect would be sticking to truth and justice. We believe justice and truth will prevail at the end of the day. Whatever the complications we see these days, the question is simple and its solution does not require any more time and energy. It could be resolved technically without any political complication. If we have controversies as to where the border falls on the ground or on the map we can go for arbitration. There is no complexity in that regard. " President Isaias Afeworki in an interview with Journalist Elsa Musa, Dehai archives 18 Jul 1998.

• ETHIOPIA: "[S]tate radio quoted Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin as saying his country would reject international mediation efforts until Eritrea unconditionally withdrew its troops." Reuters, May 18, 1998.

• ERITREA: "Eritrea said on Sunday it was ready for face-to-face talks with Ethiopia to seek an end to an undeclared border war with its former ally in which hundreds have died." Reuters, June 14. 1998.

• ETHIOPIA: Ethiopia has rejected previous calls for direct talks, saying Eritrea must withdraw its troops first. Eritrea seeks talks to end Ethiopia conflict." Reuters, June 14. 1998.

• ERITREA: "Woldensae, during a visit to South Africa, told South Africa's Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo on Monday that direct talks would take place Sunday, after he and Mesfin meet with OAU mediators Saturday. Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, the current OAU chairman, also said in Lagos on Tuesday that the Ethiopian and Eritrean foreign ministers would meet at the end of the week." Reuters, June 14. 1998.

• ETHIOPIA: "Ethiopian Foreign Minister Mesfin Seyoum will go to the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou for meetings sponsored by the Organization of African Unity (OAU), but "there will be no direct talks with his Eritrean counterpart Haile Woldensae," government spokeswoman Salome Tadesse said. She added: "The Eritrean foreign ministry is trying to fool and mislead the international community." AFP , July 29 , 1998.

• FICTION: "In late 1995 the Eritrean government made a new map claiming 486 sq.kms of northern Djibouti extending to the Baba el Mandeb. On April 16 1996 Eritrean troops crossed the border into Djibouti." Shoot First - Talk Later!, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, 04 Aug, 1998.

• FACT: "Djibouti has retracted accusations it made last month that Eritrea had attacked its soldiers at a border outpostI.The [Foreign] minister Mohammed Mussa Chehem instead blamed certain sections of the media for being behind the report. But it was Chehem who told diplomats in Djibouti that Eritrean soldiers had fired on Djiboutian troops on April 17 and accused Eritrea of having territorial designs. Chehem had also accused Eritrea of claiming a 497 square km (191 square mile) stretch of Djibouti between the Red Sea outpost of Ras Doumeira and Moulounhle, called Dar Elwa by the Eritreans. Chehem made no reference to the territorial designs." Reuters, May 16, 1996.

• FICTION: "But Eritrea's arrogance and its disdain for Africa, its absolute disregard of international law and of all principles governing inter-state relations has now reached a stage where Eritrea has become, not only a source of shame for Africa and for its neighbors, but also a menace to peace. I. Even though the two countries had agreements on free movement of their citizens, entering the sovereign territory of another country with arms was naturally bizarre." Seyoum Mesfin, 68th Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of the OAU.

• FACT: In fact it is Ethiopia that continues to cross into borders of its neighbors: "This is the third time that Ethiopian forces have crossed into Somalia since 1996 on the pretext of capturing Al-Itihad Al-Islam fighters." Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), August 7, 1998.