Ban Ki-moon voices concern over impasse in Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process

Ban Ki-moon voices concern over impasse in Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process

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In a new report made public today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern for the stalemate in the dialogue between Ethiopia and Eritrea, calling for a comprehensive implementation of the Algiers Agreements in 2000 which ended the bloody war between the two East African countries.

“This impasse continues to be serious source of instability for the two countries, as well as for the wider region,” Mr. Ban said in the report, which covers the period between 21 December 2006 and 31 March 2007. “The situation between the two parties remains unpredictable.”

He also said that he is disturbed by the growing tension between the two countries, and urged both sides to cease making inflammatory public statements and also to withdraw their troops from both within and around the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) along the border between the two countries.

“Any efforts to improve relations between the parties can be successful only if they demonstrate the political will necessary to overcome the present stalemate,” he said.

Additionally, both sides’ “involvement in other complex regional crises” is fuelling tensions, he stated.

“The United Nations, and I personally, stand ready to assist the parties in their efforts to achieve the full implementation of the Algiers Agreements,” Mr. Ban said.

He announced his intention to continue efforts to persuade both sides to resume negotiations, as well as to consult with other regional and international partners to push the process further along. He is also considering appointing a new Special Representative to head the UN peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea, known as UNMEE.

Ethiopia has not accepted the binding border delineated in 2002 by the Boundary Commission which awarded Badme, the town that triggered the fierce fighting, to Eritrea, but in his report, the Secretary-General said he was encouraged by the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s recent statements that his Government has accepted the decisions.

“However, Ethiopia’s position regarding cooperation with the Boundary Commission in the implementation of the Decision remains a major factor of the current impasse,” he said.

Meanwhile, Eritrea is in serious violation of pacts such as the Algiers Agreements and Security Council resolutions due to the ongoing and restrictions the Government has imposed upon UNMEE, he said.

“These restrictions have further reduced the monitoring capability of the Mission inside the Temporary Security Zone and have impacted very negatively on its capacity to perform its mandated tasks,” Mr. Ban wrote, pointing out that UNMEE was originally deployed at the invitation of both parties.

He added that despite the scaling-back of UNMEE’s military component and the restrictions that it has faced since 2005, the mission “continues to play an important role in encouraging restraint between the parties, and sustaining international commitment to the Algiers Agreements and the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission Delimitation Decision.”

Mr. Ban urged both countries to fully cooperate with UNMEE and the Boundary Commission.