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Ethiopia badgering the US to support its fraudulent proposal



15 Dec 2004


Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Monday 13 Dec that that his government has sent a high level delegation to consult with United states officials on what he called “new initiative for peace with Eritrea”.


Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a two-year (1998-2000) border war that left some 100,000 dead. In an agreement signed in Algiers in Dec 2000, both countries agreed to end the war and established an independent commission to determine and demarcate their shared border. Both countries had agreed that the decision of the commission would be final and binding, and with no right to appeal or recourse of any kind. The commission rendered its decision in April 2002. Eritrea has long accepted the decision unequivocally.


Ethiopia first accepted the decision but then rejected it because it did not go its way. Ethiopia’s refusal to accept the decision stalled the peace process because Ethiopia won’t let demarcation of the border to proceed as decided.


On November 25, 2004, Ethiopia unveiled what it called “Five-point proposal for peace with Eritrea” suggesting it will accept the decision in principle but demands some “adjustment” during demarcation, which experts said constituted a violation of the Agreement the two countries signed. Eritrea rejected the proposal because “it seriously violates the Algiers Agreement”.

At a press conference held on Monday 13 Dec 04 in Addis Ababa jointly with visiting German President, Ethiopia’s PM Meles said:

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.”


That is preposterous because the US has, through its Dept. of State, already indicated in two different occasions that it will not endorse Ethiopia’s proposal and referred the matter to its written statement of January 21, 2004 regarding the Eritrea-Ethiopia issue, wherein the US called for strict adherence to the Algiers Peace Accord. At the time Ethiopia did comment on the US stance and tried to sway the US otherwise, but was unsuccessful.


As far as Ethiopia’s new proposal is concerned, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Donald Yamamoto said “the US position remained the same on the Eritrea-Ethiopia border issue and that he wanted a decision of Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) to be implemented” when asked to comment on the proposal soon after it was unveiled in November.- one indication that the US remains committed to the Algiers agreement, hence non- endorsement of Ethiopia’s proposal.


On 6 Dec 2004, Yamamoto traveled to Eritrea to discuss Ethiopia’s proposal. He then told Eritrea’s president the same thing: “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”. Second indication that the US remains committed to the Algiers agreement, hence non-endorsement of Ethiopia’s proposal.


And Yesterday, 14 Dec, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher said “The U.S. has always encouraged progress on the demarcation of the border” when asked for a readout about the meeting between Richard Armitage and Ethiopia’s Foreign Minster: Translation: No more talking, let’s get to work and get on with demarcation. And who is impeding progress of demarcation? It is Ethiopia, which is trying to renegotiate the demarcation decision in violation of the Algiers agreement, because it did not go its way. One more indication that the US remains committed to the Algiers agreement.


Thus, the mission of Ethiopia’s delegation to elicit positive response for Ethiopia’s fraudulent attempts to circumvent the Algiers Agreement , to which the US has already said at least three times "NO" in no uncertain terms because they violated the Algiers Agreement, is not consultation but badgering.


It is about time for the US to let Ethiopia know to at least respect US decision even if it is not necessarily in Ethiopia’s favor and to teach Ethiopia to take ‘NO’’ for an answer. Not all questions/requests are answered with 'yes', there is also a 'NO' answer and Ethiopia must learn to accept that and live with it. And when people have already made up their mind, for whatever reason, badgering is and can be contra-productive.