Eritrea: Ethiopia must
comply fully with border ruling
Dec 2004(Reuters) - Eritrea dismissed as hollow Ethiopia's proposal to end a
long-festering border dispute, saying Addis Ababa should stick to agreements
already reached on the demarcation of a frontier between the two countries.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles
Zenawi said on Friday demarcation of most of the 1,000 km (600 mile) boundary
could begin immediately, raising hopes the row that has simmered since a
1998-2000 border war could be resolved.
After previously rejecting an
independent commission's 2002 ruling on the boundary, Ethiopia agreed last
month to accept in principle the commission's decision.
At the same time, Ethiopia offered
a peace plan that called for dialogue about the root causes of the conflict and
how to implement the boundary decision, but it has warned Eritrea to accept its
plan in total or not at all.
"The announcement made by
Ethiopia last week is hollow in practice despite unwarranted statements made by
some countries 'welcoming it as a step forward'," the Eritrean government
said in its first official reaction to Ethiopia's plan.
The statement dated Dec 3 on
Eritrea's Ministry of Information Web site called Ethiopia's proposal a serious
violation of the Algiers Agreement, which stipulated that any border ruling
should be final and binding.
"This is not a time to
entertain or float new initiatives or proposals. This is a time to demarcate
the boundary which should have happened much earlier in accordance with the
Peace Agreement," the statement said.
One of the key sticking points in
the dispute has been the commission's decision to award the town of Badme --
flashpoint of the conflict that featured trench warfare reminiscent of World
War One and killed 70,000 people -- to Eritrea.
"Eritrea has shown maximum
patience and restraint at huge humanitarian and economic cost. We cannot accept
the logic of force and accommodate Ethiopia's forcible occupation of our
territory," the Eritrean statement said.
"We cannot accept the
dislocation of our people and condemn them to live in makeshift camps forever.
We are long past the time for toothless diplomatic words," it added.
U.N. peacekeepers now patrol a 25
km (15 mile) buffer zone along the disputed frontier.