The Five-Point Peace Plan: a Weyanized version of Necker’s Cube
By: Embaie Ferrow
December 1, 2004

The Necker Cube, named after a Swiss crystallographer, is a pictures of an unusual cube that appeared to assume different orientations as one continued to look at it. If, for example, you look at the green dot in the figure for a few seconds, you will se that the same green spot flip its location back and forth. You need to be patient to see the flip.

  The Eritrean and Ethiopian web sites, these few days, have been flooded by articles dealing on the ‘new 5-points peace proposal’ of the Weyane regime in Ethiopia. What is the message and target of this new initiative? And most all what is new in it? Is the proposal real diplomatic breakthrough or is it a Necker’s Cube version of diplomatic illusion?

I hope to demonstrate that the whole escapade, old or new, is what the Commission referred to ‘an attempt to reopen the substance of the April Decision and that the boundary should be varied so as to take better account’ of what the TPLF regime calls ‘human and physical geography’. In this respect ‘the new initiative’ is not much different from the old mechanism of dialogue proposed by the PM when, in a letter written to the UNSC in October 8, 2003, he rejected the decision of the Commission and labelled it unfair and illegal. They are the two orientations of the same Necker’s Cube.

By coming with different proposals, now and then, what the regime hopes to achieve is to hijack the Algiers Peace Treaty, undermine the role of the Commission and its legal statue and turn it into a political issue for the UN and others actors to turn it into a ‘give and take’ deal. This is not a new strategic move by the TPLF for bringing peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia, but a tactical manoeuvre to gain the political grounds lost since it officially rejected the decision of the Commission. TPLF knows very well that ‘the Commission has always made it clear that it has not been given the power to vary the boundary delimited in the April Decision’ and that ‘it did not confer on the Commission, the power to vary the boundary in the process of demarcation for the purpose of meeting local human needs’. What are these five points then? And how should Eritreans react to the proposal? But first a few reminders on the nature of the enemy of the Eritrean people are in place.

One should never forget that, as Eritreans, we are dealing here with the authors of the Tigray Manifesto of 1976, the architects behind the declaration of war on Eritrea in 1998, the masterminds of the subsequent mass deportation of Eritreans residing in Ethiopia and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin on grounds of eye pigmentation, and the anti-peace elements that kept the Algiers Peace Treaty and the peoples of the two states hostage for the last four years.

         In the first point, the regime commits itself to ‘resolve the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea only and only through peaceful means’. The dispute, and here I am referring to the boarder dispute between the two countries, was resolved when the two parties signed the Algiers Peace Treaty four years ago, a peaceful mean of conflict resolution endorsed and guaranteed by international bodies including the UN, AU, EU, US and the hosting Algerian Government. This was made clear to the PM of the Ethiopia on Oct 3, 2003 by a letter written by the President of the UNSC, Sir Emyr Jones Parry, in which he informed the PM that for ‘the Security Council is clear that the framework for establishing a lasting peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea was agreed by both parties in Algiers in 2000’. What is worrying in the first article of the five-point ‘new initiative’ is the hidden threat by the regime that  even if the present problems were to be resolved by some other means’, and here it is referring to the enforcement of the provisions of the Algiers Treaty by the UNSC, ‘unless there is readiness to resolve problems peacefully and through dialogue, war and conflict will continue to be great possibilities whenever new problems arise’.

         In the second point of the proposal, the regime declares to resolve ‘the root causes of the conflict through dialogue with the view to normalizing relations between the two countries’. I fully agree with the contention of the regime that once the provisions of the Algiers Agreement are fully met, then normalization between the two peoples and their governments can be pursued by dialogue. The tension between the two countries can be diffused only when the regime abides by the rule of law and accepts the finding of the Commission without reservations. The repeated attempts of the regime to derail the whole work of the Commission and replace it with alternative mechanisms, new and old, will not contribute to the normalization of relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

         The third point of the ‘new proposal’ is revealing of the nature of the regime in Ethiopia. The regime declares that it accepts, in principle, the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission Decision. The statement was made not out of conviction or commitment to the Algiers Treaty, as it stillconsiders the decision of the Commission indeed illegal and unjust’, but because the regime finds it ‘useful and proper to accept, in principle, the decision of the Boundary Commission’.  What makes an illegal and unjust decision useful and proper?

         There are three possible scenarios why the regime finds it useful and proper to accept the decision of the Commission. The first has to do with the coming election. The regime knows well that in a fair and open election, a regime composed of an ethnic minority like the TPLF has no chance of taking power democratically.  It is counting on the opposition of the Ethiopian peoples to internal and external war to mobilize the ‘Ethiopian people to support its peace agenda wholeheartedly with full confidence in the Government's commitment to peace and in its readiness to adopt necessary decision for peace’. The second scenario could be its desperate attempt to isolate the Eritrean Government from its people. It hoped to demonstrate that the Eritrean Government, by rejecting the ‘new approach and new peace plan’ harbours an anti-peace agenda. By waving a seemingly olive branch, a symbol of peace, the regime is hoping that the Eritrean people would ‘understand Ethiopia's full commitment to peace’ and endorse it. Fortunately, olive tree does not only grow in Eritrea but it symbolizes its revolution and its commitment to live in peace with its neighbours. The offer by the Eritrean Government to postpone its referendum for two years to stabilize the political situation in Ethiopia is one such example. And the acceptance of the decision of the arbitration on its conflict with Yemen is another example. The Eritrean people know the smell of real olive branch and can’t be cheated by a cheap plastic one from Addis. The third scenario could be an attempt to gain the moral high ground the regime lost to Eritrea by rejecting outright the decisions of the Commission. It hopes that ‘the fact that now Ethiopia has accepted the decision, in principle, should also help to remove this concern of the international community’.

         The other important component of the third point of the ‘new peace initiative’ of the regime in Ethiopia is its conditionality. In fact, the insincerity of the regime to resolve the problem it has with the Commission and UNSC is exposed properly in the conditionality imposed by the statement. The demarcation of the boarder is the sole responsibility of the Commission and the parties concerned can’t impose conditions on how the Commission is to demarcate the boarder. But as BBC reported a day after the Ethiopian parliament endorsed the ‘five-point peace plan’ that is exactly what the PM had in mind when he said’ no attempts would be made to demarcate the border without dialogue in accordance with the peace proposal’; and added that ‘no demarcation would be carried out, without dialogue, in areas that could affect peace’. This shows that the ‘new proposal’ is not different from the call for alternative mechanisms made earlier by the regime, two visual illusions of the same Necker,s Cube. The ‘new initiative’ confirms the fear of the Commission that still  the main thrust of the Ethiopian comments is that the boundary should be varied so as to take better account of human and physical geography’.

The fifth and last point of the ‘new proposal’ is a clear attempt by the regime to challenge the authority of the Commission and an arrogant attempt to dictate on how the Commission should exercise its authority. Article 4(2) of the December 2000 Agreement mandates the Commission “to delimit and demarcate” the border between the Parties. And yet in this article the regime threatens the Commission that any ‘attempt to implement the decision of the Boundary Commission, as is, might lead to a serious escalation, of the tension between the two countries and thereby undermine the peace’. The regime knows well that Article 14(A) of the Demarcation Directions provides that the ‘Commission has no authority to vary the boundary line. If it runs through and divides a town or village, the line may be varied only on the basis of an express request agreed between and made by both Parties’. And yet it states that the acceptance by Ethiopia, in principle, of the decision of the Commission’ is conditional on the ‘adherence to the principle of give and take in the course of implementing the decision’. The four points of the ‘new proposal’ of the regime in Ethiopia amounts to what the Commission observed in 2003 that the five-point peace proposal is not a new initiative but an old  attempt to reopen the substance of the April Decision, not withstanding Ethiopia’s repeated statements, made both before and since, of its acceptance of the Decision’. The regime should remember that ‘the jurisdiction and powers of the Commission extend to its taking cognizance of, and where necessary making appropriate decisions on, any matter it finds necessary for the performance of its mandate to delimit and demarcate the boundary’. And the only option the parties have by the Algiers Peace Treaty is to abide by the fact that the decision of the Commission is final and binding.