The question of "Dialogue"
By: Abeba Isahac
December 6, 2003

A country that flouts international law and labors to undo a UN Security Council endorsed and internationally guaranteed final and binding agreement cannot be expected or trusted to honor agreements reached through "dialogue and mediation." Justice and the rule of law must first be enforced."

Article 14 of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement clearly states: " . . . the OAU and the UN commit themselves to guarantee the respect for this commitment of the parties. This guarantee shall be comprised of measures to be taken by the International Community should one or both parties violate this commitment, including the appropriate measures to be taken under Chapter 7 of the Charter of the United Nations by the Security Council." 

The above statements have been excerpted from a December 3, 2003 press release put out by the Eritrean Embassy in Washington D.C. and as I read it, it struck me that, if a dialogue were to take place at all, it should be about these two items and not about taking Badme away from Eritrea, and handing it to the woyane, which would be ridiculous, to put it mildly. 

We have to talk and ask the woyane why it is that they expect us to trust them after all the flip flopping and lying that they have been doing, at least during the past five years. And we have to also have a dialogue with the guarantors of the Algiers Agreement, to ask them why they are not keeping up with their commitment. It seems to me, if there is any reason for a dialogue, it should first be about such similar matters. Otherwise, just because the woyane, backed by outside help and support, foolishly unleashed a full scale war, believing they could use a border dispute pretext to upturn the Eritrean independence, and just because they failed miserably to achieve this goal, is no excuse for them to stick to the lie that Badme belongs to Ethiopia, just to save face or to fool their people, or whatever their latest ploy might be. 


If I have not misunderstood it, I think I read somewhere that, in the Nigeria vs. Cameroon case, their was no agreement between the two nations to accept the verdict as final and binding, but that it was open for appeal. So the implication of, "If Nigeria did it, we too can do it" attitude is not relevant here. It is amazing how these people come up with new excuses every full moon. First it was an appeal to the international community to force Eritrea to accept the verdict in full, because they were completely satisfied with it. Then it was the usual request for clarifications and amendments, followed by fear that the throne might be taken away from under them, and that as a result Ethiopia might disintegrate.  Then came later, that it was not them, but the people, who were not happy about the court outcome because they did not want to leave behind their ancestral graves after demarcation took place. And now, it is the case of Nigeria and Cameroon. 

The only person, that I know of, who could get away with such maneuverings, is the president of the United States, W. Bush, who got into Iraq for reasons of self defence and who is now there for nation building and the promotion of democracy, of course with no interest whatsoever in the Iraqi oil.  At least W. Bush is a powerful president and can very well do whatever he pleases around the world, because he possesses weapons of mass destruction and smart bombs which can annihilate, with impunity, any people or nation that he feels is not in line with American national interests. And, like Sharon of Israel, it is the backing that the woyane are getting from such a powerful administration that has trickled down and emboldened them to "beat their breasts" at us. Maybe we should have a dialogue about this too. 

As long as we discuss about relevant matters, as mentioned above, I guess a dialogue is not impossible. But to have a dialogue about something that has already been through the test of a full-scale war which claimed thousands of lives, then through an agreement, the implementation of which was guaranteed by renowned institutions and countries, plus a final and binding verdict from an international court, seems futile if not dangerous. What, after all this, is there anymore to say about Badme, which has already come full circle, from being the point of the pretext for attack, to ending up as the sovereign property of Eritrea. That, it seems to me, should be the end of that! 

So, based on the above, the items to be listed for a dialogue should read as follows:

1.      Finding an iota of truth in the history of the woyane that would encourage Eritrea to trust them.

2.      Find out why the international community and especially the guarantors of the peace agreement are backing away from their commitment.

3.      Find out who is encouraging the woyane to break all the rules

4.      Find out what the Nigeria vs. Cameroon case has to do with the Ethiopia vs. Eritrea case.

5.      Find out why we had to go through the whole process of signing agreements, and court proceedings, not to mention the long agonizing waiting period, especially for those who were, and still are displaced from their villages, plus the huge expenses, only to revert to "dialogue" 

6.      Finally, and most importantly, find out why the shuttling mediators of 1998-2000 did not at that time encourage, like now, or listen to the Eritrean president's pleas for a "dialogue" which could have saved thousands of young lives from both sides? Why now, when what is at stake is only the dethroning of Melles? 

Lately, news has been circulating that the UN Secretary General is looking for a special envoy to send to our area with this regard, and the buzz is, that ex president W. Clinton is among those nominated for the job. So, perhaps, since it was under his watch that all this turmoil took place, it would be appropriate if he were to be chosen, especially since he would be better equipped to answer most of the above-itemized questions, if not all. But if not him, nevertheless, whomever is going to be chosen and sent, should for starters, do some extensive homework so as to enable him or her, to answer all the above questions and much more, which have been puzzling us for such a long time now.