Eritrea/Ethiopia: Security Council mission says leaders agree to move peace forward

Eritrea/Ethiopia: Security Council mission says leaders agree to move peace forward

Amb. Ole Peter Kolby
Concluding an extended weekend visit to Eritrea and Ethiopia, a full-strength delegation of the United Nations Security Council headed back to New York today saying that the leaders of the two countries had agreed to work with the UN to move the peace process forward.

“The Security Council, having had very useful meetings with the leaders of the two countries, is very pleased that a final legal settlement of the border issue is about to be reached in accordance with the Algiers Agreements that opened the way to peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea,” said Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby of Norway, Chairman of the mission, which included all 15 members of the Council.

“The Security Council mission expressed to the parties the commitment of the United Nations to assist in the implementation of the upcoming ruling by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission on the border between the two countries and the completion of the peace process,” Ambassador Kolby said. “In our meetings, both leaders stated their desire to continue to work closely with the United Nations to this end.”

A decision by the independent Boundary Commission, which is based in The Hague, is expected in about a month's time.

Accompanied by Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, the Council delegation visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where it met with Prime Minister Meles and travelled to Asmara, Eritrea, where it met with President Isaias.

The mission also visited a camp for internally displaced people near the town of Senafe, an area still littered with mines. On Saturday, the Council members crossed the Mereb River Bridge -- rebuilt by UN peacekeepers -- that spans a part of the border between the two States that is not in dispute. At a ceremony on the bridge, Ambassador Kolby stressed the importance of building bridges, including “a bridge between minds.” He said he hoped that “through our efforts here jointly with you, the people of the two countries can build this bridge” and “a common future.”

The Security Council is scheduled to hold consultations this Wednesday on the mandate of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). The current mandate expires on 15 March 2002.