Eritrea/Ethiopia: Ethiopia must accept ‘NO’
for an answer
15 Dec 2004
When US diplomat
for African affairs Donald Yamamoto arrived in Eritrea on 6 Dec 2004 to discuss with authorities a new Ethiopian proposal,
Ethiopia was expecting (fantasizing) Yamamoto to change the hearts of Eritrean
officials in favor of its fraudulent proposal. And one diplomat, who did not
want to be named, told AFP "Mr.
Yamamoto must obtain quite quickly a more positive response from Asmara to the
Ethiopian proposal. If nothing comes out of this meeting, that will be a bad
sign". And that is what happened:
Mr. Yamamoto told Eritrea’s president “that the US government remains firm
on its last January statement on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border dispute, which
stated the boundary commission's ruling as final and binding and that it should
be implemented without any preconditions”. But that is not what Ethiopia wanted
or was expecting to hear. Anything short of endorsing “Ethiopia’s proposal” is
negative. And Ethiopia won’t accept ‘NO’ for an answer.
“The US government has not yet issued a statement on
the peace proposal; "I do not believe the US has rejected our
proposal. However they have not issued a statement welcoming our proposal
either"; a high level delegation has been sent to the United States
this week to urge the US government to issue a statement welcoming the
proposal.” said Meles at a press conference held on Monday 13 Dec 04 in Addis
Ababa jointly with visiting German President.
The US or any other Nation for that matter doesn’t issue a
statement every time an issue comes up on which it has already an established
stance in one form or the other (press release, statement) but refers the issue
to that document. And that is exactly what Yamamoto did. If it makes Ethiopia
feel better, the US wouldn’t have a problem re-issuing January 21 2004
statement on this matter?
A decision about an issue follows a binary logic: The
options (reject/support) rule each other out. The US has rejected Ethiopia’s
fraudulent proposal by not endorsing it, thereby ruling out support for the
proposal and calling for strict adherence to the Algiers Peace Accord as per
its statement of January 21 2004 instead. And Ethiopia knows that. But Ethiopia
won’t and doesn’t accept ‘NO’ for answer and that is why it is dispatching a
delegation to let the US know that failure to support its fraudulent proposal
"Whether the US issues a statement or not, we very much
hope that their position will be in line with the position taken by
international community as a whole, which means that war is not an
option," said Meles.
The Algiers peace Accord, which was authored and has the
full support of the international community even as we speak, was signed
because Eritrea and Ethiopia agreed to resolve whatever differences they have
peacefully and peacefully only and to rule out war as an option at all. No,
Meles is not referring to that international community! Meles is referring to
the nations that he claims have expressed support for his proposal and is
implying their endorsement rules out war as an option and wants US policy to be
in line with that if war is to be eliminated as an option, simply because a
legal decision did not go its way. What a joke?
PM Meles is fantasizing about the significance of the
reaction to his “proposal”. Those nations that Meles is claiming supported his
fraudulent proposal were only cheering Ethiopia for doing what it was told to
do: Stop running around trashing the decision of a court of law, flouting
international law, and flagrant defiance of the rule of law [On 25 Nov 2004 Meles
told his people that “the international community has been asking Ethiopia not
to appear to be violating the decision of a court and not to seem to be defying
international law and to fake acceptance by dropping the word ‘rejection’ and
substituting it with the deceptive phrase “acceptance in principle”]. Regardless
of what Ethiopia claims and how often, it is utterly inconceivable that any
Nation (unless rogue nation) would advice Ethiopia to renege on a binding
international Agreement (Algiers Agreement) or to undermine the sanctity of a
legal decision of an international court . Other than that, not one single
nation has rescinded its support of the Boundary Commission or called for
review of its decision, and no one nation has declared the Algiers peace Accord
null and void or called for renegotiation of the agreement. As a matter of fact
the EU presidency issued a statement on 2 Dec 2004 saying that the Eu perceives
“Ethiopia’s move as an indication of Ethiopia’s
commitment to the Boundary Commission’s final and binding decision, which it
added is “ the only basis upon which a lasting peace can be secured”. And
France maintained the final and binding decision of the Boundary Commission and
called for talks based on that only.
Having said that, the US stance on the Eritrea/Ethiopia
issue favors neither Eritrea nor Ethiopia. The statement that was issued by
the US Dept. of State on January 21, 2004 said, “The Algiers Peace Accord, ending the Ethiopian Eritrean
conflict, must be respected without qualification. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea
agreed to accept unequivocally the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s
decision as final and binding. The United States expects each government to
uphold its commitment to abide by this agreement. The United States urges both
parties to implement the Eritrea Ethiopia Boundary Commission’s decision
peacefully, fully and without delay. As the process moves forward,
communication directly between the two countries will be imperative.” This is a
principled stance calling on both countries to adhere to an agreement that they
signed and agreed to abide by its outcome wherever the chips may fall. Eritrea
is fully in compliance with the Algiers Agreement and only in that sense does
the US stance favor Eritrea. Ethiopia is, has been, and remains the
noncompliant/defiant party. The Algiers agreement provides measures to remedy
Ethiopia’s defiance (UN Charter, Chapter VII). But the international community
is and has been reluctant to consider such measures against Ethiopia because it
is ridiculous to sanction a country (Ethiopia) that owes its sociopolitical and
economic existence to the massive and continuous handout of the international
community (Today, Ethiopia is synonymous with labels such as “Africa’s perpetual
begging bowl” or “poster-child case of Third World misery”).
Knowing that, the government in Ethiopia has taken advantage
of it and has been getting away with flagrant violations of the Algiers
agreement, outright rejection of court decisions, brazen defiance of the rule
of law, overt violation of multiple UNSC resolutions and more with impunity
simply because Ethiopia won’t accept ‘NO’ for an answer.
And on 25 Nov 2004 Ethiopia unveiled an “Accept and deceive
in principle” that it dubbed as “5-point peace proposal”, which manifestly
constitutes a serious violation of the Algiers Peace Accord and has the
audacity to compel the US and the UN to support it under the threat of war.
As the Boston Globe so rightly stated in its editorial of 6
Nov 2003 entitled also correctly “Recalcitrant Ethiopia”, the international
community must learn from what happened after Eritrea wrested
independence 1991 and the outside world let the two nations sort out their
relations. The result was a war that caused not less than 100, 000 of deaths
from 1998 to 2000. Now Ethiopia is balking at a settlement to resolve the
immediate cause of the fighting.
Using colonial maps, an international commission has
determined a line between the two countries, which both had agreed would be
final, binding, and without right for appeal or recourse of any kind. But
Ethiopia refuses to allow the boundary to be demarcated because the town of
Badme would end up in Eritrea.
The international community needs to engage Ethiopia intensely
and if necessary compel it to accept the decision of the Boundary Commission
unequivocally as agreed to by the peace treaty and make sure they end the conflict.
If Ethiopia can’t learn on its own to accept ‘NO’ for an
answer, then the US, UN and the international community at large have the
obligation to teach Ethiopia to learn to accept ‘NO’ for an answer the hardest way because it can’t go on like
this for ever.
The US/UN must let Ethiopia know in no uncertain terms that
the world is not governed by what Ethiopia wants but by that what makes the
world tick right and governs: The rule of law in international relations.
“The United Nations, the United States, and the European
Union all say Ethiopia should abide by the agreement. Letting the work of the
boundary commission go for naught could allow this conflict to fester into
another war and would represent a dire precedent for border disputes around the
world – the Boston Globe, 6 Nov 2003”.
The US has spoken a solid and principled ‘No’ to Ethiopia’s
fraudulent proposal. Ethiopia must respect that and accept ‘NO’ for an answer.