Expressing concern over shooting in the security area separating Eritrea and Ethiopia, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called on the Security Council to advance the resolution of the boundary dispute by visiting both Horn of Africa countries.
"The ongoing stalemate in the peace process is not sustainable in the long term," he says in a report to the Security Council. "I would like, therefore, to renew my recommendation to the Security Council to undertake a mission to Ethiopia and Eritrea in order to reassure the two countries of the Council's unflinching commitment to the peace process."
He says he is deeply concerned over the recent shooting incidents in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) separating the two countries, adding: "Such incidents could easily escalate into situations that would compromise military stability and roll back the peace process."
Eritrea became independent from Ethiopia in 1993 after a referendum, and a two-year war broke out in 1998 over the delimitation of their border.
Mr. Annan repeats his earlier invitation to the witnesses to the Algiers Agreements, signed in 2000, especially those States which might be able to influence the parties, to play a more concerted role with a view to "assisting the parties in breaking the protracted and dangerous stalemate."
The Algiers Agreements bind both Governments to accept the decisions of the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission. In August 2002 the Council unanimously adjusted the mandate of the 3,329-strong UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) to help both parties implement the 13 April Delimitation Decision.
Mr. Annan notes the absence of political dialogue between Eritrea and Ethiopia and emphasizes its importance in achieving lasting peace.
He repeats his appeal to Ethiopia to return to the military positions held before 16 December 2004 by reversing the deployment of its armed forces near the border areas.
While the international community is ready to support the two Governments as they try to fulfil their treaty obligations, "the attainment of durable peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea rests primarily with the two countries," Mr. Annan says. "Fulfilment of this responsibility is a debt that the parties owe to their peoples."