Foreign Minister Seyoum’s speech at the UN General Assembly
UN Human Rights Council discusses Somalia and Freedom of Assembly and Association
The International Contact Group (ICG) on Somalia meets in Madrid
Preventing “a failed state”: the responsibility of Eritrea’s leadership
Foreign Minister Seyoum’s speech at the UN General Assembly
Foreign Minister Seyoum addressed the UN General Assembly on Wednesday this week. In a wide-ranging speech, he began by reviewing the main aspects of Ethiopia’s political and economic transformation, and in particular the process of democratization, now in its second decade. It had been a bumpy process and one “fraught with difficulties” but perseverance in encouraging the institutions of democracy, good governance and the rule of law to build a stable political system based on devolution of power to the people, had paid off. Minister Seyoum reiterated the government’s belief that democracy was not an option but a means of survival. The process was irreversible and had put out “deep roots” both in the state and in society. It was, of course, also the means to improve the life of the people. Ethiopia had built a national consensus within a framework of democracy and development, registering an annual average of double-digit economic growth for the last seven years.
This has provided the basis for the formulation of the next five year Growth and Transformation Plan (2010-2015), an ambitious plan designed to create and strengthen a stable democratic developmental state and remove any bottlenecks to the full achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The plan, in fact, will help to make “poverty history” in Ethiopia and bring an end to the era of food insecurity and dependency on food aid. Ethiopia had made substantial progress towards the MDGs, taking charge of its destiny, devising its own strategy and maximizing its own resources as well as making the nest use of available international assistance. Minster Seyoum noted that progress towards the MGDs in Sub-Saharan Africa had been encouraging. Nevertheless Africa still lagged behind other regions of the world. The High-Level Plenary Meeting last week had been most timely and the action agenda designed to achieve the MDGs required responsibility and accountability of all stakeholders. “We in Africa know what we can do; we want to know what the rest of the world will do to help us achieve our goals.”
Minister Seyoum emphasized the critical challenge of climate change. Copenhagen, he said, had reached agreement on the political commitment necessary, but the upcoming Cancun meeting must come up with a legally binding commitment coupled with the political will to provide resources for adaptation and mitigation for the most vulnerable states. He noted that access to energy was key to fighting poverty, and stressed Ethiopia’s commitment to the development of renewable energy. It was committed to zero carbon emissions by 2025, and since 2008 had been planting over 1 billion trees annually. By the end of the Growth Plan Ethiopia will have developed 10,000 MWs of hydroelectric power together with parallel development of geothermal, bio-fuel, wind and solar power potential. We aim to provide 75% rural electrification by 2015.
Turning to the issues of international peace and security, Minister Seyoum noted that Ethiopia has always been an active participant in peacekeeping operations since the early 1950s. It was among the major troop-contributing countries for UN peacekeeping mission. He emphasized the dangers of terrorism and stressed the importance of unreserved international cooperation to combat it. He said the threat of extremism continued in Somalia, pointing out that the IGAD Heads of State and Government had identified the conflict in Somalia as between the people of Somalia and international terrorists. IGAD’s Council of Ministers in New York, supported by the Secretary-General’s Mini-Summit on Somalia last week, had called on the TFG leadership to strengthen their cohesion. The IGAD Council had reaffirmed the Djibouti Process as the sole basis for peace and reconciliation in Somalia, urged the UN to engage within the region and with IGAD, and expressed regret over the continuing role of Eritrea, in continued violation of UN Security Council resolutions, as a “spoiler” and the main provider of arms to terrorist groups in Somalia. IGAD had called upon the UN to mobilize the necessary resources for AMISOM to sustain an enlarged deployment of forces pending its transformation into a UN peacekeeping force.
With regard to the situation in Sudan, Minister Seyoum said success in Sudan would be a significant success for Africa; failure would entail a serious catastrophe. This was why the activities of the AU’s High-Level Implementation Panel should be strengthened and parallel initiatives avoided. The referendum on Abyei, popular consultation in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, border demarcation and post-referendum issues were all organically linked to the CPA. Minister Seyoum said there was clearly a need to change the mode of operation in discussions on CPA implementation. Business as usual isn’t going to work. In the final analysis both parties must carry out their obligations without putting forward preconditions. The referenda should certainly be held strictly in conformity with the terms of the CPA. Irrespective of the outcome, the parties should also recognize there are several commonalities between north and south, and it was of paramount importance that negotiations on post-referendum matters should be conducted with a seriousness of purpose.
In terms of security in the Horn of Africa and the Southern Red Sea, Minister Seyoum emphasized that members of IGAD had warned the international community and the UN time and again that Eritrea was the principal destabilizing force. The Security Council had recognized this when it imposed sanctions in December last year. It was, however, regrettable that it had not yet taken the necessary steps to compel Eritrea to respond to the requirements of Resolution 1907. Eritrea was still training, arming and nurturing extremist elements such as Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam. This had been standard behavior, in the sub-region and more widely. Consistent with this have been the acts of aggression committed against nearly all its neighbors since its independence only 17 years ago. “The time, therefore, is long overdue for the Security Council to take resolute action and see to it that its decisions are complied with”. Minster Seyoum said this was a necessity if the integrity of the decisions of the UN were to be maintained.
Minister Seyoum emphasized the importance of the United Nations as the principal global player on the international scene. He underscored the importance of the ongoing reform of the UN to ensure its continued vitality. Of particular importance was cooperation between the UN and the African Union, and ongoing cooperation between the Security Council and the AU’s Peace and Security Council: “We should continue with this cooperation”. Ethiopia, he added, would do whatever was necessary to support this.
The UN’s mini-summit on Sudan
UN Secretary-General, Ban ki-Moon convened a high-level meeting on Sudan on Friday last week, September 24th. It followed the meeting of the IGAD Council of Ministers on the sidelines of the General Assembly in New York, in which IGAD, while welcoming the establishment of the South Sudan Referendum Commission and the appointment of its Secretary General, had called on the two parties to work together fully to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). IGAD also encouraged the parties to expedite the establishment of the Abyei Referendum Commission and the full demarcation of the Abyei area administration and the North-South border. It emphasized the need to redouble efforts to realize post referendum arrangements. It also expressed its appreciation of the African Union’s High Level Implementation Panel, headed by former South African President, Tabo Mbeki, for assisting the parties to implement the CPA. It assured the panel of its support.
The objective of the mini-Summit was to mobilize international support for full and urgent implementation of the final elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. And in addressing the meeting, Prime Minister Meles, as chairman of IGAD, stressed the urgency: the issue was now one of peace or war. There was no other conflict comparable to it. “If we succeed in Sudan, it will be a major success; and if we fail it will be catastrophic.” That’s why the AU had provided its best efforts with the panel led by former President Mbeki. Prime Minister Meles stressed that issues, including post-referendum arrangements, the Abyie issue and border demarcation, were all linked and must be addressed. Business as usual would not work. The process of negotiation over CPA implementation must be changed. A more effective method was needed. The two parties had to play the decisive role. The ultimate incentive was peace and the parties must live up to their responsibilities without preconditions. IGAD provided the framework for the CPA, but there could not have been a CPA without the support of the international community. It was necessary to revamp the negotiation process and reinforce support to the peace process in the limited time remaining.
Participants at the Summit recognized the CPA parties’ commitment to the peace process and welcomed the expression of their commitment to make every effort to ensure peaceful, credible, timely and free referenda as provided for in the agreement and to overcome the remaining political and technical challenges as well as hold the referenda on January 9th next year. Participants confirmed their commitment to respect the outcome of credible referenda and to help maintain sustainable peace in the post-referendum period. They called for the urgent establishment of the Abyei Referendum Commission and for the acceleration of the work of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission. The two parties recognized that whatever the outcome of the referenda their relationship would be essential for managing any transition, post-referenda arrangements and for the maintenance of peace and prosperity. Participants welcomed the commitment to resolve post-referenda arrangements, including border management, security, citizenship, migration issues, debts, assets and natural resources, as well as the agreement to put in place a framework to resolve all outstanding issues as agreed at the meeting of parties in Mekelle, in Ethiopia on June 23rd.
Participants also stressed the importance of inclusive, timely and credible consultation processes in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States, in accordance with the CPA. They welcomed the United Nations provision of technical and logistical assistance for referenda preparations, and the work of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel, and the support of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD), the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, as well as other regional and international partners of Sudan. The meeting agreed adequate international funding was necessary to alleviate humanitarian problems in Southern Sudan, and highlighted the urgent need to assist Southern Sudan develop governance capacities. It welcomed the meeting held in Brussels on September 17th in which the Government of Southern Sudan put forward a framework for immediate functional priorities in the South.
The meeting welcomed efforts to reach an inclusive solution in Darfur, supporting the work of the Joint Darfur Mediator and the Government of Qatar, urging all armed movements to join the peace process without preconditions or further delays. It expressed support for the principles guiding the Doha negotiations, and called on all parties to immediately cease hostilities and allow unrestricted freedom of movement and access to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the humanitarian community. It welcomed the government’s commitment to end impunity and protect civilians in Darfur. It reiterated strong support for UNAMID and its efforts to promote the engagement of all Darfurian stakeholders. The meeting took note of relevant Security Council resolutions and the need to support efforts to halt illegal arms flows into Darfur.
Participants expressed appreciation of the work of IGAD in brokering the CPA, with the support of other regional and international partners of the Sudan, including the African Union and the United Nations. In awareness of growing urgency, they committed themselves to empower and support the parties to complete implementation of the CPA, to resolve post-referenda arrangements and work to achieve sustainable peace. Equally, they noted that while the referendum is an important benchmark of the CPA it does not mark the end of the obligations of the two parties to work together for a peaceful transition. It was firmly underlined that the core objective of the international community and of all stakeholders in Sudan is peaceful coexistence for the peoples of Sudan, acceptable to all, together with accountability, equality, justice and the establishment of conditions to allow the building of strong, sustainable and peaceful livelihoods. The urgency of the situation has been underlined by the decision of the UN Security Council to travel to Sudan next week. They will be visiting Khartoum, traveling through both North and South Sudan and visiting Darfur.
UN Human Rights Council discusses Somalia and Freedom of Assembly and Association.
The UN Human Rights Council held its 15th ordinary session from September 15th to October 2nd in Geneva, Switzerland. It considered various reports and held a general debate on human rights situations in various areas. During the interactive dialogue Ethiopia updated the Council on the positive measures it had recently undertaken, including the successful elections in May and the launching of the Growth and Transformation Plan. The delegation also encouraged the High Commissioner’s Office to continue its work in the provision of technical assistance in Ethiopia.
During the session, the Council held a debate on Somalia and considered the report of Dr Shamsul Bari, the Independent Expert on Human Rights Situation in Somalia. The Ethiopia delegation supported the decision of the Council to give attention to the human rights and humanitarian challenges in Somalia and hold a standalone debate on Somalia. Among those attending were Mr. Abdirahman Haji Aden Ibbi, the Deputy Prime Minster of Somalia; Ms Navy Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Mr. Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative; and Ambassador Aboubacar Diarra, the mission head of AMISOM. Several heads of UN programs testified; and several delegations condemned the terrorist attacks committed by Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam. Delegations from Ethiopia, Uganda, the UK, Italy, the African Group and the European Union all agreed on the need for solidarity and unity of purpose within the TFG. This was reflected in the resolution adopted by the Council renewing the mandate of the Independent Expert and urging the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to focus on the provision of technical assistance and support to Somalia.
Ethiopia noted the recent visit by Ms. Kyung-wha Kang, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, to Somalia and the region, and her call for accountability with particular respect to the documentation of humanitarian law violations. Ethiopia certainly supports the call for building up AMISOM’s capacity to protect civilians within its existing mandate, but regrets that some, including NGOs, have recently aimed a barrage of unsubstantiated allegations against AMISOM. It is incumbent upon the Human Rights Office to ensure transparency and due process in its work and focus on the provision of technical assistance. The Independent Expert and the Human Rights Council should be the focal points of inter-governmental deliberation on human rights in Somalia.
The Council also discussed and adopted a resolution establishing the mandate of a Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association. The Ethiopian Federal Constitution incorporates principles and norms for freedom of assembly and association, and Ethiopia naturally supports continued attention on these rights by regional human rights organizations and UN bodies like the International Labor Organization. At the same time, several delegations were concerned that this new mandate might duplicate efforts of the ILO’s supervisory mechanisms including the Committee on the Application of International Standards. The African Group, Russia, China, Cuba and a number of other delegations called for a mandate which would first create a broader consensus within the Council and then move on to consideration of the specific implementation of measures at the domestic level. As various members disassociated themselves from some provisions, further reflection in the implementation of the mandate and an understanding of the difference in national practices in the implementation of the relevant norms, seems to be called for.
The International Contact Group (ICG) on Somalia meets in Madrid
The ICG convened its 18th session on Monday and Tuesday this week in Madrid. The meeting was chaired for the first time by Ambassador Mahiga, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, who emphasized that crucial decisions were needed. He called on the international community to convey its concerns to the TFG as well as recommendations for effective action and for implementation of the transitional tasks needed for the new political dispensation after August 2011. He called for the speedy appointment of a new Prime Minister and for a united and cohesive cabinet. Ambassador Mahiga appealed to the international community to redouble its efforts to assist the TFG and AMISOM to address the political and security challenges facing the TFG. He urged full implementation of the agreements signed between the TFG and Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a, and encouraged the TFG to engage all groups ready to contribute to peace and renounce violence. Extended political space and a more secure environment would facilitate the speedy delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Somalia. He welcomed the recent elections in Somaliland, and underlined the continuous security and economic challenges facing Puntland. The international community has rallied behind the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan. It should do the same for Somalia.
President Sheikh Sharif of the TFG expressed the hope that its outcome would provide tangible assistance for the Somali people. He called on the international community to confront Al-Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist groups in a serious manner. He expressed the readiness of the TFG to make every effort to accomplish the transitional tasks before next August. Referring to the existence of differences within the TFG leadership, he praised the ability of the TFIs to handle the challenges. He called on the international community to redouble its efforts to strengthen the police, military and intelligence services to enable the TFG to build peace and stability.
During the meeting, the representatives of the United States and Norway urged the TFG leadership to stay cohesive. They called on the international community to provide the necessary support to the TFG and AMISOM. Dr. Tekeda Alemu, Ethiopia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, highlighted the justified frustrations of the international community over the continuous squabbles within the TFG, but also emphasized that there was no alternative to supporting the TFG. The Djibouti Process was the only peace process available and the international community must make more efforts to strengthen it. He warned against being hoodwinked by statements from those whose activities were still devoted to undermining the TFG and the peace and stability of Somalia, and indeed more widely. He stressed the international community should always act on the basis of empirical evidence not on the basis of mere assertions.
It was noted that some in the international community have been trying to unravel the Djibouti Peace Process and question the legitimacy of the TFG. On the other hand, others including IGAD, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of Islamic Conference, were united in expressing their support for the TFG, pledging to continue to strengthen it. They agreed that Al-Shabaab and Hizbul Islam were not prepared to accept peace or national reconciliation. Delegates from Sudan and the Arab League noted that Sheikh Hassan Dahir ‘Aweys’ had been invited to Sudan from Asmara in April 2008 in an attempt to persuade him to make peace with the TFG. Despite ten days of effort, they had made no progress; Sheikh ‘Aweys’ remained adamant in his determination for conflict.
Delegates emphasized the need to support areas that have created relative peace and stability. The ICG applauded the successful election held in Somaliland and underlined the need to increase support to enable the people of Somaliland to sustain their relative peace and stability and their democratic progress. Somaliland was also the subject of a sideline meeting called by the UK and Norway on Tuesday. This commended the peaceful transfer of power after the election, and emphasized the need to provide the necessary support to ensure continuity of democratization, in terms of direct budgetary support and capacity building, in security issues and to encourage the new administration in its reform agenda. There was agreement on the need to assist in enhancing infrastructure, including the Berbera corridor, as well as building up social services, including, for example, Hargeisa’s water supply. Partners agreed to create a coordination framework for helping the administration immediately. Somaliland had set an example to all Somalis, and indeed to Africa in general, in democratization; and it had also played a major role in regional security. While its new administration hasn’t abandoned the issue of recognition, it also attaches great importance to development cooperation and to having close working relationships with partners. The sense of the meeting was that as much as possible should be done to assist its progress short of recognition. The same applies to Puntland.
The ICG meeting itself produced a series of recommendations. The TFG was called on to produce within two months a roadmap outlining management of the remaining transition period. The Transitional Federal Institutions must intensify their efforts to complete the key transitional tasks, particularly the finalization of the Constitution-making process, and explore various options for the post-transition arrangements. While making clear the Djibouti Peace Process remains the sole basis for the achievement of Peace and National Reconciliation in Somalia, the ICG called on the TFG to increase its outreach and reconciliation efforts towards all those who have expressed their willingness to join the Peace Process and renounce violence, and take immediate and concrete steps towards full and effective implementation of the agreement signed with Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a. The meeting made concrete suggestions to strengthen existing partnership and coordination mechanisms within the security sector, to address the impact of piracy and its causes, to build sustainable institutions and to increase humanitarian assistance.
The ICG meeting this week was the latest in a series of meetings which have underlined the importance of bringing an end to the status quo in Somalia, of stopping Al-Shabaab’s offensive and assuring the security of the TFG. There was the extra-ordinary Council of IGAD Ministers’ meeting, the IGAD Chiefs of Defense Staffs meeting, and the IGAD Heads of State and Government Summit. This defined the crisis clearly and accurately as a conflict between the people of Somalia and international terrorism. The African Union Summit in Kampala endorsed this. So did the UN’s mini-summit in New York. Now the ICG meeting has taken place in Madrid. All of these have highlighted the Djibouti Peace Process as the sole basis for peace and reconciliation in Somalia and stressed the necessity for the TFG to really push for this. There can be no accommodation with Al-Shabaab and extremism, nor can there be any compromise with those who continue to support Al-Shabaab. This is why it was a mistake to invite Eritrea to the Istanbul conference on Somalia. This is why all IGAD countries rejected the idea of allowing Eritrea to participate in the mini-summit in New York. Eritrea has refused to respond to UN resolutions, and even in the last few weeks has sent armed fighters into Ethiopia’s Somali Regional State, and flown arms supplies down to Al-Shabaab in Kismayo. Eritrea has, in fact, shown no capacity, no interest and no will to be involved in peace-making. As IGAD members made clear Eritrea has been so deeply involved in acting as a “spoiler” or a regional trouble-maker that it would have been a mockery for it to be represented at such a conference.
Preventing “a failed state”: the responsibility of Eritrea’s leadership
Last week we welcomed the fact that the International Crisis Group had at least begun to take a close look at the increasingly worrying situation in Eritrea which, the report suggested, was lurching towards the status of a failed state. We would obviously, like all of Eritrea’s neighbors, prefer this not to happen. The possible ramifications of such a disaster would be frightening for Eritreans and for the rest of the Horn of Africa, even if it would bring an end to the perennial efforts of the Eritrean government to destabilize the region and its neighbors.
However, the ICG’s suggestion that the way to avoid Eritrea’s collapse into the status of a failed state is to put pressure on Ethiopia, to resolve the border problem between Eritrea and Eritrea, is something that certainly needs urgent correction. This is paralleled by the ICG’s implicit acceptance of Asmara’s view that the international community is inherently hostile to Eritrea. These are comments that demonstrate a failure to understand either the roots of Eritrea’s foreign and domestic policies, or of the aims and attitudes of President Isaias.
There are two major points here. One is that Eritrea’s problem with Ethiopia is of its own making; secondly, from Eritrea’s perspective it is clear that there is no longer a border issue if indeed there ever was. Eritrea has made it quite clear it is not prepared to normalize relations with the present government in Ethiopia.
The ICG warns that Eritrea might become a failed state unless pressure is put on Ethiopia to resolve the border problem. Let us not forget that the problem is actually of Eritrea’s making in the first place. It was Eritrea that invaded Ethiopia in May 1998 in defiance of the UN Charter as the Claims Commission made clear; it was Eritrea that refused to respond to Ethiopia’s acceptance of the Boundary Commission’s Decisions in November 2004; it was Eritrea which systematically dismantled the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and elements of the Algiers Agreement; it was Eritrea that forced out the UN Mission (UNMEE) whose job was to monitor the Temporary Security Zone between the two armies, and provide for the security for demarcation. In fact, according to the Peace Agreement, UNMEE’s presence is a pre-requisite for demarcation. Equally, demarcation depends upon a cessation of hostilities, and Eritrea’s deliberate abrogation of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement means that hostilities have continued as indeed Eritrea has demonstrated with its continued efforts to destabilize Ethiopia.
None of this has anything to do with Ethiopia. It could all be resolved by Eritrea’s President Isaias overnight – if he wished to do so; if he was prepared to swallow the blow to his pride caused by Eritrea’s defeat in June 2000. He is not, even though arrogance and pride are scarcely a sound basis for either internal or external policy. To be prepared to think again, to admit errors, still appears to be a psychological barrier for President Isaias. The excuse so often made for Eritrea, and so often quoted by Eritrean officials – frustration at Ethiopia’s failure to demarcate – simply cannot hold water, and constant repetition adds nothing to its value. In the first place, as we have repeatedly noted, Ethiopia has long accepted the Boundary Commission’s Decisions. It is Eritrea which has prevented demarcation of the border according to international norms, and which has repeatedly refused any dialogue to normalize relations. Equally to the point, Eritrea’s destabilization activities and aggression in the region started long before 2002, the year the Boundary Commission announced its decisions. Conflicts with Sudan, Djibouti, Yemen and Ethiopia were all started by Eritrea in the 1990s. This policy has continued even after the defeat of Eritrea’s aggression against Ethiopia as Eritrea again demonstrated in 2008 when its troops invaded Djibouti.
Similarly, Eritrea’s more recent claim that Ethiopia was occupying Eritrean territory is, as Ethiopia noted in its right of reply to Eritrea’s statement at the UN General Assembly, a figment of imagination. Virtual demarcation, of course, has no legal standing and as the Boundary Commission itself noted, until the boundary is actually demarcated the boundary accepted by Ethiopia in June 2000 remains the only valid one. As Ethiopia has consistently said the most important task remaining is demarcation on the ground to ensure sustainable peace. Ethiopia is ready to sit and discuss all issues with Eritrea; Eritrea persistently refuses to hold any dialogue or any discussions to normalize relations.
There really is no excuse for Eritrea’s behavior since independence, its consistent use of aggression as a central element in foreign policy, and more recently its efforts to use terrorism. Certainly, however, more attention should be paid to Eritrea, and we would not disagree with the point that the Eritrean government is “suspicious of its own population, neighbors and the wider world.” Having said that, however, it is very clear the root of the problem lies with the government and leadership of Eritrea which holds these suspicions, suspicions for which there is no independent or impartial evidence. In fact, as Ethiopia has been made only too aware, the problem between Eritrea and Ethiopia now has nothing to do with the border. Eritrea has made the issue one of attempting to overthrow the government of Ethiopia, of regional power and hegemony, and the pride of its president. Ethiopia has consistently tried to move towards normalization of relations during the last six years. Eritrea has, as consistently, deliberately and definitely, refused to countenance the idea. As a result there has been no peace and reconciliation, no resumption of trade, no discussion of border demarcation issues, and no cooperation on security. In a word there has been no cessation of hostilities, and without that there can be no boundary demarcation. Ethiopia is well aware that it would gain nothing by any Eritrean slide into anarchy and disorder, but it is the Eritrean government which controls this, not Ethiopia or any of its alleged policies, nor even the UN, the US or the CIA as the Eritrean leader so frequently claims.
While the ICG report does put considerable emphasis on Eritrea’s domestic problems, its conclusions almost appear to be part of the government’s campaign to deflect the international community’s attention away from Eritrea’s destabilizing activities, offering an excuse for the regime to get away with the UN Security Council sanctions. “It is inadequate and unhelpful to portray Eritrea as the regional spoiler.” It is no coincidence that Eritrean diplomats are currently busy trying to link their role in Somalia and throughout the region, and what they call ‘Ethiopia’s illegal occupation’ of Eritrean ‘sovereign’ territory. They are making an attempt to recast the regime in Asmara as having a potentially constructive role to play in bringing about a peaceful resolution of conflict in the region, and more particularly in Somalia. With its comments on border issues and its acceptance of Eritrea’s view of the world, the ICG appears to support this, even if it differs over the government’s internal views. As we have previously noted this hasn’t prevented the regime sending boatloads of troublemakers to Ethiopia and arms to Somalia just as it was apparently rolling out a red carpet for those who naively believe it is possible to change Eritrean government policies. The ICG’s dismissal of Eritrea’s destabilization activities suggests the report is actually designed to sell the insidious agenda of getting the Eritrean government off the hook of UN Sanctions.
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Ministry of Foreign Affairs