Ban Ki-moon calls for efforts to break Ethiopia-Eritrea peace process stalemate

20 July 2007

Pledging the support of the United Nations in efforts to resolve the stalemate between Ethiopia and Eritrea, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the two countries to uphold their commitment signed agreements.

They must “respect the ceasefire and the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), and refrain from any action that could undermine it or lead to an escalation of tensions between the two countries,” Mr. Ban wrote in a new report to the Security Council made public today.

He voiced deep concern regarding the “continuing serious violations” of the TSZ along the border between the Ethiopia and Eritrea.

While calling on Eritrea to withdraw its troops and heavily military equipment from the TSZ, he urged Ethiopia to de-escalate the situation by withdrawing forces it has recently stationed near the border.

Reiterating appeals from previous reports, the Secretary-General asked Eritrea to lift restrictions it has imposed on the UN peacekeeping mission deployed – known as UNMEE – deployed in the TSZ.

Mr. Ban also voiced concern for the continued impasse in the boundary demarcation process between the two countries. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission handed down a final and binding decision in 2002.

“I strongly urge both countries to take advantage of the Commission’s advice and assistance before it takes action to conclude its work at the end of November,” he noted.

Pledging his intention to “do everything possible” for the implementation of the Algiers Agreements – which ended the bloody war between the two countries – the Secretary-General pointed out that Ethiopia and Eritrea “bear the primary responsibility for a successful resolution of their border dispute and the establishment of lasting peace between themselves.”

In the report, Mr. Ban recommended that UNMEE’s mandate, set to expire at the end of this month, to be extended for six months until next January.