UN inaction vs. Ethiopia’s defiance of border ruling dangerous
ASMARA, July 19, 2004 (Reuters) - Eritrea's president has said continuing
deadlock with former foe Ethiopia over their disputed border is becoming
"very dangerous", and Asmara will not now engage with a U.N. envoy
appointed to resolve the stalemate.
"At the moment the issue is going in a very dangerous
direction," President Isayas Afewerki said in an interview with state
radio and television broadcast on Sunday night.
Eritrea has regularly called on the outside world to press
its bigger Horn of Africa neighbour, a U.S. ally in the war on terror, into
accepting a ruling by independent experts in 2002 about where their common
border should lie.
Isayas said the international community had contributed to
the current stalemate by its weakness and there was now no question of Eritrea
dealing with the U.N. envoy appointed seven months ago.
"If we ask why the border decision has not been
implemented in the past two years, it is just because of the weakness of the
international community," he said
Eritrea and Ethiopia went to war between 1998 and 2000 in a
dispute over the small Ethiopian-run border town of Badme. An agreement signed
in Algiers in 2000 ended the conflict, in which more than 70,000 people were
But demarcation of the disputed border has been indefinitely
postponed since Ethiopia rejected a ruling by an independent boundary
commission that said Badme was part of Eritrea. Under peace accords both sides
had agreed that the commission's ruling would be binding.
"The past two years have proved something," Isayas
"While our land was still occupied, we have been
working hard to take all the necessary steps respecting the superiority of the
rule of law. But it cannot be thought that this can go for an infinite
International efforts to achieve a breakthrough have focused
on the mission of Lloyd Axworthy, a Canadian former foreign minister who was
appointed U.N. envoy to the peace process in December 2003.
Ethiopian leaders have held talks with Axworthy but Eritrea
for months refused to meet him.
Last month Eritrea said it would send an official to hold an
exploratory meeting with Axworthy. But Isayas, apparently eliminating that possibility,
said Axworthy's mission was now "dead" and the issue
"closed" as far as he was concerned.