The Myth of Axworthy's 'Impasse' Protestation
By: Huriy Ghirmai
April 1, 2005

Of course there is an impasse, a deadlock, a so-called stalemate or whatever other irrelevant word one might use to describe the current situation with the Eritrean-Ethiopian Peace Process. But think or say what you like, Eritrea cannot be blamed for anything. In fact, Eritrea has nothing to do with the 'stalemate' nor is it the 'other party' versus Ethiopia in this stupid game -- Eritrea is far from being a part of the set-up - it does not feature in it at all!

On the contrary, the 'impasse' Lloyd Axworthy and UNMEE's top man Legwaila Joseph Legwaila talked about recently, involves the international community - specifically the guarantors of the Peace Agreement, namely the UN, US, EU and AU - and the Ethiopian government only; and if there is any impasse, it is because the international community has failed to deal decisively with Ethiopia when the Woyane publicly rejected the EEBC decision - and hence Peace - between the two countries.

So now we have a lawless Ethiopian government defiantly eyeballing a seemingly indulging US, EU and AU as well as a quivering and ineffective UN.

In the middle of all this, some people and certain sections of the international media seem intent in dragging Eritrea into this silly game. But Eritrea 's position has been very clear from the beginning. It has accepted the decision of the Border Commission and in that respect, it has kept its end of the bargain as it pledged it would when it signed the Algiers Peace Agreement.

Eritrea has fulfilled its obligation in every little detail; so surely, it cannot be accused of any wrongdoing; in fact, it is plain for all to see that Eritrea is the only party contributing positively to the implementation of the Peace Agreement while all others involved in the process, including the United Nations, seem to be shirking their respective responsibilities.

Resolution S/ RES /1507 (2003)
On September 12, 2003 , seven days before Meles Zenawi wrote a letter to the UN Security Council and effectively rejected the Peace Agreement, the UN Security Council passed resolution S/ RES /1507 (2003). In it, it unscrupulously 'affirmed' the 'crucial importance of political dialogue between the two countries for the success of the peace process' - I say unscrupulously because the only thing of crucial importance to the success of the peace process was then - and still is now - the acceptance by both parties of the EEBC decision as 'final and binding' and its unconditional implementation.

In effect, resolution 1507 was what cleared the ground for this idiotic notion of stalemate - a sort of a prelude to a dangerous game. The idea of 'political dialogue' as a prerequisite for the implementation of the EEBC decision was an irresponsible and dangerous proposition that needed to be rejected outright if only for the sake of peace.

So what happened next?
The Tigrean Ethno-national regime in Ethiopia, by then politically cornered at home for its deceptive handling of the EEBC decision - including its desperate misinformation drive of April 13 2002 to convince the Ethiopian People that Badme had been awarded to Ethiopia - ceased upon the chance and hatched up yet again a deceitful plan. Emboldened by the UNSC's blunder, first, it flagrantly rejected the Peace Agreement and then, in order to divert the attention of the international community, decried the absence of 'dialogue' between Eritrea and Ethiopia . Talk about crocodile tears!

Whether the UNSC was genuinely concerned or merely promoting the idea to give Meles and his yobbos a lease of life, we will never know; and anyway, any conclusion in this matter would be pure speculation. But what we can say for certain is that the UNSC acted in a clearly irresponsible way. In this regard, the present impasse between Ethiopia and the guarantors of the Peace Agreement, including the UN itself, is to a great extent the doing of the United Nations.

What is even more superfluous is the appointment by Secretary General Kofi Anan of a Special Envoy. Apparently, Lloyd Axworthy was thought to be the right man to break the deadlock between Ethiopia and Eritrea '. Now, so desperate as he is to find a sense of purpose for himself while filling a pointless vacancy in the UN, he is trying to sell this idea of an 'impasse' between Eritrea and Ethiopia to anyone who cares to listen. But unfortunately for him, Eritrea is not buying.

Reason for doubting the sincerity of the UN and others
The UN - the same body that is directly involved in facilitating the implementation of the Peace Agreement - knows too well that there is no deadlock between Eritrea and Ethiopia . As things stand now, there is a single reality regarding the Peace Agreement: Ethiopia has rejected it in clear violation of international law and Eritrea has accepted it unconditionally.

Given the undeniable fact that Eritrea and Ethiopia had agreed they would accept the EEBC ruling as final and binding when they signed the Algiers Agreement, Ethiopia 's reneging of its commitment, far from creating an impasse between itself and Eritrea , represents a clear breach of an agreement enshrined in international law. But sadly, The UN's response has not come in a way that would foster confidence in the minds of the people of Eritrea and all peace loving people of the world .

The international community, particularly the UN, had made a commitment to guarantee that both Eritrea and Ethiopia respected the tenets of the Peace Agreement. Furthermore, the UN, along with the OAU (- now AU), gave its word that it would ensure "measures [would] be taken by the international community should one or both of the Parties violate this commitment [their commitment to resolving their conflict peacefully], including appropriate measures to be taken under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter by the UN Security Council"; (14:a - The OAU's Cessation of Hostilities Proposal signed by both Eritrea and Ethiopia on June 18, 2000)

This is the undeniable truth and it is this that we all need to keep on telling the world repeatedly. Eritrea has no part in this diversionary game of stalemate; in other words, there is no deadlock between Eritrea and Ethiopia . The UN and the rest of the world cannot afford to play such dangerous games of trying to pervert the course of justice - not only is it morally wrong to do so but will also prove financially burdensome.

Trying to hawk this idea of impasse to Eritrea and the world is unwise. If the UN and the international community fail to fulfil their obligation as laid out in the Peace Agreement, then all the good that has been achieved so far will undoubtedly be undone. So far, we have seen it waver in the face of Ethiopia 's lawlessness and that will in no way usher peace between the peoples of both Eritrea and Ethiopia .

Talking about deadlocks: the UN can easily break its impasse with Ethiopia . It does not need any envoy - special or ordinary - to do so. The UN General Secretary and the other guarantors do not need anyone to remind them what they need to do if they really want to resolve the situation. All that is required of them is to deal with Ethiopia fittingly according to the terms laid out in the Algiers Agreement-- then we can all have some peace.

Ethiopia 's rejection of the EEBC decision is not the only thing obstructing its implementation -- the indecision of the international community to deal with Meles Zenawi's unlawful regime resolutely is another factor threatening to wreck the peace process.