By: Adem Berhan
October 30, 2003
The Ethio-Eritrean Border Commission has regretfully announced the postponement once again of the demarcation of the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This time, no new date of demarcation is given by the Commission. Citing the absence of conducive conditions as the reason for its action while at the same time stating that it is "ready and willing" to do its job when the right conditions are in place, the Commission has expressed its frustration and, in a way, is appealing for the creation of the conducive conditions.
In my opinion, which I think is shared by many, the two parties that could and should have brought about the conditions that the Commission is referring to but have failed to cooperate with the Commission and, therefore, are responsible for the predicament that we are faced with are: the Ethiopian government and the guarantors. What we have at hand is a case in which a legal ruling has been made, but due to the transgression of one (the Ethiopian government) and the failure of another to punish the transgressor (the guarantors) the ruling has not been enforced.
The Ethiopian government, as a major party to the conflict, is primarily responsible for breaching the agreement. The Eritrean government has fully performed its obligations as set forth in the agreement. It is, therefore, clear without any shadow of doubt that the Ethiopian government is the breaching party.
On the other hand, the guarantors have failed to exercise the authority vested in them as per the agreement and provide the Commission with the enforcement arm that is necessary to effect its ruling. The conditions that should exist precedent to the demarcation can surely come about if the guarantors do what they are supposed to.
The Ethiopian government has time and again proved that it is not a party to be trusted. Its duplicity is an open secret. It will continue to hinder the process rather than create the conditions that are favorable and necessary for peace and stability unless some form of coercion is imposed on it. The Ethiopian leaders' scripted "anger" over the ruling, a tactic, must not be allowed to foil a reasonable, legal and peaceful solution that the general populace has warmly welcomed.