Ethiopia: One and a half years since the Eritrean invasion
Ethiopia-Eritrea, Politics, 11/16/1999
We publish this statement in full from the Ethiopian Office of the Government Spokesperson: This has been the tone of statements by the two warring sides and thus we will similarly publish Eritrean statements.
In a well-established pattern of aggression against its neighbors, on 12 May 1998--one and a half years ago today--the Eritrean army invaded and occupied sovereign Ethiopian territory in the vicinity of Badme town and its environs. The Badme area, and other border territories later invaded and occupied by the Eritrean military, had never in history been administered by any colonial or Eritrean government.
In fact, the Issaias regime had never even claimed this land as its own and did not attempt to poll the residents of these territories during its 1993 referendum onindependence. Furthermore, the government in Asmara never raised any objections when national elections were held in 1995 to elect representatives from these areas to Ethiopia's Parliament or when regional elections were held to elect local administrative officials. In 1994, the Ethiopian government also carried out a population census that included the territories later invaded by Eritrea.
Moreover, Eritrea's invasion took place when mechanisms were in place to resolve the border and other disputes peacefully and in the spirit of brotherhood. Thus, when Eritrean tanks rolled into Badme only a few days after the Ethio-Eritrean Joint Border Commission had met in Addis Ababa and agreed on the modalities to continue a dispute resolution process, the Ethiopian people and government were shocked. While the unprovoked invasion was completely unexpected by Ethiopia, which had no army units in the area, Eritrea had previously attacked several of its neighbors. During its few short years of independence, Eritrea had initiated aggression against the Sudan, Yemen and Djibouti before invading Ethiopia in May 1998.
Despite this dangerous habit of shooting first and talking later, the Ethiopian government expressed its preference for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, while reserving its right of self-defense. Thus, when the US and Rwandan governments, and later the OAU, presented peace proposals, Ethiopia accepted them because they were loyal to two fundamental principles, namely, that borders cannot and must not be changed by force and, in the event of such a transgression, there must be an immediate return to the status quo ante to undone the illegal aggression. Eritrea rejected the two peace plans for the very same reason (claiming to accept the OAU Framework Agreement only after a humiliating military defeat at Badme in February 1999).
After paying lip service to the Framework Agreement, Eritrea demonstrated its insincere commitment to peace by launching various attacks in a futile attempt to recapture Badme. In a similar pattern, after claiming to accept the technical arrangements for the implementation of the OAU agreement, the Eritrean government proceeded to launch a new round of military conscription, increased its support for armed extremist rebel groups perpetrating terrorism in Ethiopia and initiated attacks against Ethiopia at both the Zalambessa and Badme fronts. In addition, while professing a commitment to peace, the Issaias regime has provocatively made the ridiculous claim that Zalambessa is sovereign Eritrean territory. Given its aggressive actions, it is hard to believe that Eritrea is truly interested in peace and willing to withdraw from all the territories it has invaded and occupied.
Because the Eritrean government cannot be trusted, Ethiopia deserves and needs a guarantee that there will be a complete return to the status quo ante. Requiring anything less than a full reversal of Eritrea's aggression sends the message that a "shoot first, talk later" strategy is effective and thereby threatens the future stability of the region. Thus, it is not only in Ethiopia's interest, but also in the long-term interests of the region as a whole that Eritrea, rather than being treated on equal footing with the victim of aggression, is condemned for violating another country's sovereign territory, in gross violation of international law. Had the international community condemned Eritrea for its aggression when it first invaded Ethiopia one and a half years ago, many lives could have been saved. Isn't it past time to say "no" to further death and destruction?
On the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia
War prisoners question between Eritrea and Ethiopia
Eritrea and Ethiopia spar over village
Please add a link on your webiste pointing to ArabicNews.com and bookmark ArabicNews.com & subscribe to our daily email news bulletin.
| Advertise on ArabicNews.com. MyFlowers.com sold more than $2700 of flowers in one month advertising on ArabicNews.com! Make your company, and products a success. Special rate for new and small business. Inquire!Advertising Info