Eritrean president castigates Ethiopian authorities of "deception"

BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; Mar 01, 2004

Source: Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea, Asmara, in Tigrinya 1710 gmt 29 Feb 04

 [Unidentified reporter] As it has been reported in the media, the [African Union heads of state] summit discussed agriculture, water [transmission breakdown] and defence. What was said and decided at the summit? [Passage omitted]

[Reporter] In the paper you presented to the summit, you mentioned that the Organization of African Unity was one of the guarantors of the comprehensive peace agreement signed [between Eritrea and Ethiopia] in Algiers in 2000. What was the opinion of the summit on this issue?

[President Isayas] Of course, it could not be said that the paper we presented had any new points, but it reminded the summit to take its responsibility. [Passage omitted: detailed account of the Algiers agreement].

Because the Algiers agreement stipulates that action will be taken against a party that does not accept the decision of the [Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary] Commission [EEBC] in accordance with Article Seven of the UN charter, attempts are being made for action to be taken, but this was not in the agenda [of the AU summit].

The issue was raised at the end this morning's meeting. The weyane's [Ethiopian government's] approach was, as usual, aimed at lobbying and deceiving individuals by raising new issues. The weyane officials believed that deception would work because there was no continuos following [to the issue], and they made continuos attempts to deceive the delegates.

One of the deceptions was the issue of 15 and 85 per cent [referring to claims that Ethiopia has accepted 85 per cent of the ruling by the EEBC, thus the problem is with only 15 per cent of the decision]. We have been hearing this. Some of the new ideas include the deception by the weyane officials' in which they said: We can give them [the Eritreans] a vast stretch of land should they leave Badme for us. We can give them land anywhere they want.

Though this idea has been rumoured for long time, they used it for deception on the occasion. They wanted to appear as willing to give land. But, who asked for [others'] land? Did we say that we have a land problem? We do not want land that is not ours. No matter how small our land might be, what we want is to live in peace without seeking others' land. The question is not the size of land. Nothing will improve by bartering land. The court decision should be implemented.

The issue was raised by [Libyan President Mu'ammar al-]Qadhafi during this morning's session. He said: Let us do this, let us create that, let us make them [the Eritrean and Ethiopian officials] meet to bring about peace. They said: Of course, Eritrea has a legitimate position. However, they said, the other side [Ethiopia], the country will disintegrate, a house, a church or a school will be divided into two [because of demarcation], and asked for these problems to be addressed. Those who do not have an insight into the situation might think this is true, and they asked us to sympathize with them [the Ethiopians].

The other thing is that the UN secretary-general's special envoy was there to ask the delegates to talk with us. But, that is none of our business and we do not want to comment on that. This was also raised at the end of the summit and comments were made, some of which emotional. However, the organization cannot create an alternative mechanism.

Finally, there was no resolution passed on the issue because there was no consensus for the establishment of such a mechanism, whatever name it might be given.

Generally, it was a helpful occasion not only for us to distribute the papers to remind the participants about the issue, but also to unravel the covert campaign by the weyane. [Passage omitted]

Source: Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea, Asmara, in Tigrinya 1710 gmt 29 Feb 04