Eritrea slams 'pathetic' UN border resolution

Eritrea on Wednesday denounced as “toothless, meaningless [and] pathetic” the latest United Nations Security Council resolution on its festering border tensions with neighbouring Ethiopia.

“This resolution is toothless, meaningless, pathetic and extremely disappointing,” said Yemane Gebremeskel, the director of Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki’s office.

“We will continue to appeal to the international community to push for the enforcement of the Algiers agreement,” he said, referring to the pact signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2000 to end a bloody two-year border war.

On Tuesday in New York, the Security Council voted unanimously to extend until March 15 2006 the UN peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (Unmee) and urge the nations to implement a 2002 boundary ruling emanating from the peace deal.

Yemane said the resolution falls far short of what is needed to press Ethiopia, which has thus far rejected the border decision, to accept the finding.

“There is a violation by Ethiopia of the UN charter and of the Algiers agreement,” he said. “This is not a border dispute but an occupation of sovereign territory.”

“The Security Council’s toothless resolution may have consequences for regional peace and security,” Yemane said, warning that the current situation is “not sustainable”.

Under the Algiers agreement, both parties promised to respect the “final and binding” border ruling made by an independent commission, but Ethiopia has refused to implement it, calling instead for modifications.

Since the beginning of the year, tensions along the 1 000km border have steadily risen, with reports of new troop deployments and security incidents raising fears of renewed conflict.

Eritrea has repeatedly complained that the international community, particularly the UN, has not done enough to pressure Ethiopia to accept the border ruling.

Tuesday’s resolution calls simply on the two countries to implement the ruling, something Yemane said is unacceptable given Ethiopia’s position.

“Had Ethiopia and Eritrea been able to solve this issue bilaterally, we wouldn’t have gone to the UN,” he said. “There is a lack of political will from the major powers who shape the Security Council policy.”

The Security Council resolution also calls on Eritrea to lift restrictions—including the payment of tax on imported humanitarian goods—it has recently imposed on relief organisations in the impoverished Horn of Africa nation.

Yemane questioned the appropriateness of the call in a resolution ostensibly dealing with Unmee operations.

“[It] is very curious, it has nothing to do with the UN’s mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea,” he said.
“It’s a domestic issue.”—Sapa-AFP

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