Background Story of Ethiopia – Eritrea Conflict Brought by Ethiopian Embassy [Archives:2000/31/Focus]
The Embassy of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia would like to appreciate the efforts done by Yemen Times to entertain the interests of the audiences, taking into account the responsibility to feed readers with information based on facts and figures. There is also no objection to what Mr. Hassan Al-Haifi responded to this same issue in July 10th 2000 edition.
The objective of this article to add supplementary information to our previous response so that the readers can have clear knowledge about the conflict which emerged between Ethiopia and Eritrea in May, 1998.
It is important, before dealing with the focal point of this article, to bring to the notion of the readers that never in her history as a statehood, had Ethiopia exercised expansionism over neighbors.
When Eritrean declared her independence formally in May, 1993, Ethiopia was the first country in the world to acknowledge the sovereignty of this young state and since then the relation between the two neighbors was so close and smooth and even aroused excitement of many outside observers until it changed to taste sour in the month of May 1998.
If the Government of Ethiopian was expansionist it would have not kept on demobilizing its defense machinery to a minimal scale and waited until Eritrea build up herself militarily on reverse scale. Nor could Eritrea have kept herself silent by accepting only partial independence for almost eight years if she had yet territories inside Ethiopia. Who is expansionist in the Horn is vividly clear to the whole world from self-explanatory facts given hereunder.
When we come to May 1998 crisis, that Eritrea was aggressor was attested by the facilitators as well as the organization of Africa Unity. Let us pick some key points from findings and recommendations of the facilitators and the OAU after the outbreak of the conflict.
I. ‘Recommendation from the Facilitators the governments of Rwanda and the United States’
(2) “So as to reduce current tension and facilitate the process of resolving the underlying problem, the facilitators recommended that within 24 hours of the arrival of the observer team, Eritrean forces begin to redeploy to positions held before may 6,1998 and that, immediately following the civilian administration in place before may 6,1998 return,
II. ‘OAU Proposal for a Framework Agreement for a peaceful settlement of the dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia, (8-10 June 1998 Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou)’
(3) “So as to reduce current tension and facilitate the process of resolving the underlying problem, the facilitators recommended that within 24 hours of the arrival of the observer team, Eritrean forces begin to redeploy to positions held before may 6,1998 and that, immediately following the civilian administration in place before may 6,1998 return,
(4) “In order to determine the origins of the conflict, an investigation be carried out on the incidents of 6 May 1998 and of any other incident prior to that date which could have contributed to a misunderstanding between the two parties regarding their common border, including the incidents of July-August 1997,”
III.’Report on the Efforts of the OAU High Level Delegation on the Dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea (17-18 December 1998, Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou)’
(5) “In our reflection we have drawn the conclusion that the events which took place between 6 and 12 May 1998 were fundamental element of the crisis that evolved between the two countries. Those were the events which revealed the crisis to the international community and with which the OAU was seized. It, therefore, appears fundamental that any search for a peaceful solution should take into due account this elements.”
IV. ‘Modalities for the Implementation of the OAU Framework Agreement on a Peaceful Settlement of the Dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea’
(1) “The Eritrean Government Commits itself to redeploy its forces outside the territories they occupied after 6 May 1998.”
(2) “The Ethiopian Government commits itself to redeploy, there after, its force from positions taken after 6 February 1999 and which were not under Ethiopian administration between May 6, 1998.”The aforementioned documents (I, II, III, IV) are basic to the findings and recommendations of the OAU as far as the root cause of the conflict were concerned and the documents had been fully endorsed in Ouagadougou and the subsequent 35th ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Algiers in 1999 July 12-15. In addition, it is after the OAU had taken into account to the appeals from both parties and undertaken thorough investigation, including pre-May 6, 1998 incident that the organ produced these documents and endorsed them.
Each time these documents prepared and presented to the parties by the mediators, Ethiopia reiterated her acceptance of the documents while the Eritrean side kept on rejecting until they succumb to the mediators terms for peaceful agreement after experiencing humiliating defeat in the latest confrontation with Ethiopian forces in the battle field.
Important is it here to bring to the readers cognition that investigation by the third party unequivocally realized who the aggressor was. The above documents are the living witnesses to this, The crisis is, therefore, the outcome of the police of expansionism designed by the leadership of Asmara.
The government and people of Ethiopia, at this time are happy not because they fought a war with the Eritrean forces and stood victorious but because they restored their sovereignty, they proved to the EFLF government that they can not give up their national security to force of rifles of the foe.
While this shortly being the background to the unfortunate conflict, the government and people of Ethiopia always wish that peace and stability be restored in this region. It is only when peace is sustained in the Horn as a whole that the people of the region can prosper for the better future.