Ethiopia’s Zenawi accuses Eritrea of intransigence on border row


March 31, 2006 (ADDIS ABABA) — Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said although the recent talks in London between Ethiopian and Eritrean representatives on the border dispute could be considered as a good step, it could not be a forum for finding a lasting solution to the problem because of what he called Eritrea’s intransigent position.

Presenting a report to parliament on 28 March that was broadcast live by Ethiopian television; Zenawi said Eritrea’s demand for unconditional implementation of the ruling by the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission had undermined a result that could have been achieved. He stressed the need for dialogue to resolve the border dispute in accordance with international laws and in a manner that would ensure durable peace.

Legal experts from Ethiopia and Eritrea began talks with international mediators in London on Friday 10 March on demarcating the border between the two Horn of Africa countries.

Ethiopia has said in the past it wants to discuss the ruling before marking the border out, while Eritrea has insisted on strict implementation before dialogue.

Zenawi said Ethiopia would continue making the necessary preparations to prevent the Eritrean government from resorting to war, and if it did, to close the issue in a way that would ensure a lasting solution to the problem.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister also accused Eritrea of supporting “anti-peace forces” in Ethiopia bent on tarnishing the image of the country and sowing discord between the people and the government.

”We think the fact that the UN Security Council also supported the decision by the guarantors” of the Algiers Agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea to promote dialogue between the two neighbouring countries” Said the Ethiopian Prime Minister.

The position of the Ethiopian government is to resolve the problem through dialogue and in accordance with international laws and norms in a manner that would ensure durable peace. We are always ready to implement the proposals included in our five-point peace plan.

The plan, first made by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2004, calls on Eritrea to accept changes to the 2002 ruling, including exchanging land where villages may be divided by the border.

Eritrea expressed concern about the latest attempt in London to resolve its border dispute with Ethiopia, accusing Ethiopia of trying to reopen negotiations instead of simply accepting a 2002 ruling on the frontier.

Ethiopia’s proposal “basically says they do not accept the decision as it is,” said Yemani Ghebremeskel, the Eritrea president’s chief of staff.


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