Eritrea urges UNMEE to stay until completion of mandate
5 July, 2004- The 25th meeting of the Military Coordination Commission (MCC)
was held on 5 July 2004 in Nairobi.
meeting was chaired by the Force Commander of the United Nations Mission to
Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), Major-General Robert Gordon. Brigadier-General
Elliot Kamteni represented the African Union (AU). Ethiopia's military
delegation was led by Brigadier-General Yohannes Gebremeskel and Eritrea's
military delegation by Brigadier-General Abrahaley Kifle.
his opening statement, the Force Commander welcomed participants to the last
meeting he would chair. He reviewed the meeting of the UN Secretary-General's
visit to Eritrea and Ethiopia between 3rd -- 6th July, and said that Mr. Kofi
Annan's presence had brought a high level of international attention to the
Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process, adding that the SG had held a meeting with
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki. He also discussed the visit of the Review
Team from the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and thanked both
Commissioners for their constructive and helpful comments to the team.
to the military situation, the FC said that this had been relatively calm with
some improvements. He said that UNMEE peacekeepers had noticed this in their
daily operations. He thanked the Parties for their cooperation in this regard.
He added: "It is fair to say that the number of incidents has been
reduced, as has the military rhetoric. At the same time the level of
cooperation with UNMEE is better than in the period before the last MCC
meeting. All this is positive."
on his 21 months of chairing the MCC, General Gordon who leaves UNMEE on 23
July, said that he had come to the process with great optimism but was clearly
disappointed that the MCC's work in support of the demarcation had still not
started. He nevertheless added that the MCC process with its subordinate Sector
MCCs had proved to be constructive and useful and a positive force for
stability, but he was sad to leave as there was so much unfinished business.
Yohannes Gebremeskel thanked the Force Commander for his role in the MCC
process. He said that though the MCC process had been both challenging and
complicated it had been helpful to both Parties, adding that UN troops had
undoubtedly helped Ethiopia and Eritrea to maintain peace in the TSZ. General
Yohannes said that Ethiopia appreciated the contribution and impartiality of
the Force Commander as Chairman of the MCC; especially his role in establishing
the Sector MCCs. These meetings he said had played a positive role in resolving
local issues. The security of the TSZ he said was a springboard for peace in
the region, and he was convinced of the positive role UNMEE had played in this.
Abrahaley on his part said that said that everyone was aware where the problem
with demarcation lay but that the international community was reluctant to
point the finger at Ethiopia. He said it was very frustrating that the UN was
now talking about troop reductions instead of speeding up the demarcation
process. General Abrahaley said that if the Mission was to carry out its
monitoring functions effectively, there should be more troops on the ground and
he urged UNMEE to remain in the Mission area until the completion of its
mandate. General Abrahaley thanked the departing Sector Centre Commander,
Colonel Anand Rawat Singh for all the good work that the Indian peacekeepers
had done in Central Sector. Thanking the Force Commander for his efforts and
professionalism, he explained that he respected the differences he had had with
the Force Commander and recognised their similarities. He urged the Force Commander
not to forget Eritrea, stressing that Eritrea would not forget him.
review leading to a discussion of the military situation was presented by
Colonel Shahjahan Mollah, the Chief Military Liaison Officer based in Asmara,
while UNMEE's Sector Centre Commander, Colonel Anand Singh Rawat gave a
presentation on the progress of Sector MCCs, which he said had been a success
in all three sectors. Participants agreed to hold the next MCC meeting under
the chairmanship of the new Force Commander on 6th September at a location to
additional information contact the UNMEE Public Information Offices:
Addis Ababa, phone 251-1-443396; Asmara, phone: 291-1-151908