EU welcomes Ethiopia’s “acceptance” of border
NAIROBI, 26 November (IRIN) - The European Commission (EU)
has welcomed the announcement by Ethiopia on Thursday that it had accepted
"in principle" an April 2002 ruling by an independent commission that
demarcated its border with Eritrea.
Javier Solana, the EU's High Representative for the Common
Foreign and Security Policy, said in a statement issued in Brussels by his
spokeswoman, Cristina Gallach, that the announcement "removes doubts that
had emerged following Ethiopia's previous objections to the demarcation of the
"Solana is particularly encouraged by Ethiopia's
acceptance to start with the demarcation of the border and its appointment of
field liaison officers to facilitate this task," the EU added. "He
hopes that Ethiopia's decision will lead to a speedy start of the demarcation
of the border and thus contribute to breaking the stalemate in the peace
The boundary commission was set up by Ethiopia and Eritrea
under a December 2000 peace agreement that ended a two-year war in which as
many as 70,000 people were killed. Ethiopia rejected the ruling shortly after
its announcement and the actual demarcation of the border was suspended
In particular, Ethiopia rejected a decision to award the
symbolic border town of Badme, where the war flared up in May 1998, to Eritrea.
Eritrea subsequently declined to enter into dialogue with Ethiopia, calling on
its neighbour to implement the border ruling in full.
The EU said Solana "encourages the government of
Eritrea to respond positively to Ethiopia's offer of talks about the root
causes of the conflict, with a view of normalising relations between the two
However, the Eritrean government, in a press statement
issued on Thursday by its Ministry of Information, said that the Ethiopian
announcement was aimed "at promoting public relations exercises and buying
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had told the Ethiopian
parliament on Thursday that his government would end its opposition to the
commission's ruling on the 1000-km border.
Meles insisted, however, that the ruling was still
"illegal and unjust" and that any attempt to implement it "might
lead to a serious escalation of the tension between the two countries and
thereby undermine the peace".
In a 35-minute speech, the Ethiopian leader called for the
"root causes" of the conflict to be resolved through dialogue to help
end border tensions and normalise relations.
"Durable and sustainable peace is, moreover, in the
mutual interest of the two peoples," he said. "Normalisation and good
neighbourliness between the two countries is in the interest of peace and in
their mutual interest."