Eritrea rejects war, but patience thin in border row –president
Asmara, Eritrea - Jul 20, 2004 - Eritrea cannot sit back and watch while
its sovereignty is violated and its territory still occupied by Ethiopia,
Eritrean President Isayas said. He stressed that despite Ethiopia's
"war-mongering", Eritrea did not see war as an option. In a live
interview with Eritrean TV and radio, Isayas said international community
should do more to force Ethiopia to honour border rulings. The following is an
excerpt from the interview broadcast by Eritrean radio on 18 July; subheadings
Against the backdrop of what you have been explaining about the complications
by the international community, the weyane [Ethiopian government] is saying
that war is inevitable. However, analysis shows that its morale and capability
of doing are at a low level. What are the factors pushing it into a war in
which it will not succeed? While On the one hand it has rejected the EEBC's decision
and occxupied our territory forcefully, it was at its lowest level of morale on
the other. How are we going to legally defend our soveriegnty?
No reason to
rush to war
Isayas] Could we sit back and watch while our sovereignty has been violated and
our territory occupied? Talking of side issues by the international community
is just like a joke. I will leave the answer to you. The other issue is about
going to war. The experience we had in the past two years has confirmed
something. We have been patient and waited against all odds to exhaust all that
could be done for the sake of international law so that every action that
should be taken could be taken. Our patience cannot continue indefinitely. As
we have learnt from our experience in that past two years, there is nothing
that could lead us to war. We are going to respect the rule of law and we shall
make efforts to make sure that law and order are being respected. We have no
reason to hurry to go to war.
not respect Algiers Agreement
As I have
explained earlier, the weyane cannot look into anything but war. It could not
choose anything less. It is impossible for the weyane to respect the [Algiers]
Agreements. We have clearly seen it through our two year's experience. The
weyane has a principle of following the -die and let die- philosophy.
Therefore, war is its only option. We could not claim that there will be no war
as the choice is not ours and the issue is beyond our control, but we will
continue with our efforts to legally resolve the problem. If war should be
avoided, then it could not be achieved through weyane's wishes, but through
pressure from the international community. The international community has a
responsibility to ensure the implementation of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary
Commission [EEBC] decision.
Words of threat
by the weyane that war is inevitable is just a smokescreen to rejecting the
EEBC decision. It is not for me to say whether the weyan has the strength to
carry out war or not. The weyane has a naive way of thinking of getting
political and diplomatic milage by trying to force Eritrea into war and gain
international community's sympathy. We are not worried to know the strength of
the weyane. What worries us is how to avoid any reason that would give the weyane
the pretext, political or otherwise, that could give it the chance to start
war. [Passage omitted: more repetitive sentences on the same].
What is the reason behind the international community's wrong decision of
supporting Ethiopia's stance of not implementing the EEBC decision? This shows
the double standards the international community is using.
are some issues the diplomats do not want to say. When we talk of the
international community whom are we refering to? Who passes decisions at the UN
Security Council in particular and in current global developments in general?
There is one super power, the USA. The role and influence the US has in
decision making at the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly is great.
When we talk of the international community in relation to our issue we are
referring to the US and other countries who have influence in our region. There
are some issues that we have observed in the past short period of time. When we
talk of international community we mean to ask the stance these countries take
regarding issues concerning us. What type of influence could they have in
implementing the EEBC decion and what role could they play in implementing it?
US role in
As a rule, the
major role of the international community is that of the USA. If we have to
implement the EEBC decion and observe respect for international law, then the
US should have a clear stance over this matter. It was the US that had been
playing a big role in blocking the international community from coming up with
a concrete decison over this matter. Initially the international community, had
early this year, declared its support to decisions of the EEBC. Later on
conflicting messages and statements were passed on. We were told later on that
there are issues of Iraq, Afghanistan, election and other major issues to
concentrate on border conflict with Ethiopia. By any standards these reasons
could not be accepted. If we have to bring this issue to its logical
conclusion, then we have to implement the decision of the EEBC and the US
should play its role to either bring about lasting peace or push the whole
process towards war.
If we look back
into the history of our years of struggle and our national endeavours in the
past, there are some mistakes that the US had committed in the late 90s. Our
yardstick for the international community's achievements depends on the actions
the US has taken on relevant issues. Even our development intiative are
assessed in that light. [Passage omitted: more repetitive sentences on the same
issue, on UN peacekeeping force].
What do you think the future of Ethiopia and the strength of the opposition in
the country would be?
[Isayas] It will
take time to delve into Ethiopia's internal problems. But I will go into the
important points. We can live without talking about the weyane. It is not
important to talk about the weyane when we discuss our economic development and
progress issues. If we have peace, then we can implement our development
programmes. We do not want to talk about weyane, we have nothing that could
force us talk about it. What forced us to talk about weyane was because of
Badme [flashpoint of the Ethiopia-Eritrea war] and related issues.
using the border problem as a political tool and Eritrea is being discussed at
every forum that involves Ethiopia. The primary agenda in Ethiopia's foreign
policy is the Eritrean issue. If Ethiopia's internal affairs should be managed
properly, then the violation of international agreements should stop
of war, weyane's war mongering, weyane's rejection of agreements is a
reflection of its internal problems. There is talk that the Ethiopian people
will not accept the EEBC decision and implementing this decision would bring
about crisis in Ethiopia. This will not allow any mature politics to develop in
Ethiopia. If mature politics is played in Ethiopia, then weyane could not
survive. It always brings external problems into play for it to survive. It has
to use Eritrea as a pretext. It has to be able to use the border conflict
As we have
observed in the past two years, wyane's number one agenda in its dealings has
been the Eritrean issue. The number one agenda in its foreign policy is the
Eritrean issue. The weyane might think that it is gaining a politcal mileage,
but the end result is going to bring its own downfall. [Passage omitted: more
on weyane's internal problems and Eritrea's economic development activities].
Source: Voice of
the Broad Masses of Eritrea, Asmara, in Tigrinya