Meles underlines his longstanding defiance
of border ruling
Berlin , Germany,
10 Nov 2004 (Deutsche Presse Agentur) - Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi
on Wednesday underlined his longstanding rejection of a demarcation line set in
2003 for his country's border with Eritrea -- but stressed he was ruling out
any return to war.
bottom line for us is that this dispute must be resolved by peaceful
means," said Zenawi at a briefing prior to talks in Berlin with German
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
a bloody war with Eritrea from 1998 to 2000 over demarcation of their
1 000km join border. The conflict left 70 000 people dead and cost
the impoverished nations millions of dollars.
Under a peace
deal signed in Algiers in December 2000, both countries set up a boundary
commission to establish a new bilateral frontier, which is currently guarded by
United Nations peacekeepers.
was angered when the commission awarded the Ethiopian-administered town of
Badme -- which sparked the war -- to Eritrea.
Zenawi said the
problem with the commission was that it had drawn up provisional maps but had
failed to then go out and do field work to check "the facts on the
ground". This, he added, cast doubts of the legality of its decisions.
refusing even to discuss the border issue with Ethiopia, Zenawi admitted his
country faces a stalemate at present.
obligation is end war, not start another one," he said, adding: "If
the options are between peace and war, I'd rather have peace."
neighbouring Sudan, Zenawi said he doubts if civilians in Darfur could be
protected with 3 000 troops being sent by the African Union to the
thing is that the eyes and ears of the international community should be
there," he said, adding that transparency will help lead to a much-needed
Zenawi said a
federal system, such as that in Ethiopia, could help solve Sudan's conflicts
both in Darfur and between the Muslim north and the mainly Christian south,
where a deal appears to be close.
Constitution grants major powers to regional ethnic groups, including the right
to hold a referendum on secession as had been done by Eritrea, which gained
independence from Ethiopia in 1993.
recognise that ethnicity is part of the politics of Africa," said Zenawi.
But despite the
fact that most African states have a diversity of ethnic groups, Zenawi said
most of the continent's conflicts are due to the fact that Africans have failed
to adjust to globalisation.
and rulers have to get their own houses in order to compete in a globalised
world, he noted.
Europe and the
rest of the world need to open up to trade with Africa, said Zenawi, who added
he strongly backs the World Trade Organisation's Doha round of talks on
Turning to his
meeting with Schröder, Zenawi said the most important thing Berlin could give
his country is not aid or trade rights but rather to teach it how to copy the
German system of technical skill formation, including systems of standards,
vocational training and apprenticeships.