Accept in principle and implement with principle the EEBC decision to restore trust and peace
By: Lambros Kyriakakos
November 30, 2004

The metaphoric, allegoric and eloquent diplomatic language of Mr.Melles can't hide a simple reality of his "peace initiative".

A peace proposal is being used to mask a request for entering a process of re-negotiation. Any kind of dialogue requires restoration of trust. Restoration of trust in this case means implementation of pre-agreed. With no trust and confidence, in what kind of dialogue can two parties engage? Basic prerequisite of dialogue is mutual trust. Mutual trust comes from concrete action and not a vague notion of acceptance in principle of a very specific agreement and resolution.

The Ethiopian gov't is proposing to disregard the International Court Decision -boundary commission decision and trust the notion, of "in principle acceptance". Some rushed to congratulate without examining thoroughly. The AU even rushed to congratulate without examining and hearing the perspective of the proposal from the other side involved . Surprisingly they have been silent for a long time, even when the Eritrean seat at the AU was being vacated from the frustration of their inaction.

Were is the necessary trust between the two parties going to come from, in order to engage in a creative dialogue? What can restore trust and create a positive political climate? Does the fluctuating language of "acceptance" and "legality" of EEBC decision by the Ethiopian gov't allow to build the required confidence? What are the confidence building measures that will guarantee this dialogue? The fact is, that the longer it takes to implement the EEBC decision the more distrust is being created towards the non-implemeting party. Eritreans, politicians and ordinary people, question the fact that if the EEBC decision is not respected with all it's sophistication and having as guarantors the most powerful in the world, what guarantees that any future agreement is going to be respected and implemented? Is it safe and prudent to open the pandora's box by disregarding what is, as solid, as an International court decision?

The attempt to use the notion of a "peace proposal" to unilaterally alter an already agreed and signed treaty can only be understood as reconfirmation of the recognition of the boundary commission. What is also at stake, is the credibility of the rule of law, in this case the EEBC decision. What has been defined as just by the highest international judicial court cannot simultaneously be called unjust, illegal, in crisis, acceptable in principle but unacceptable in implementation. The Ethiopian gov't is insisting :Accept justice the way we understand it. Accept in principle, dishonor in practice, is not a genuine notion of peace. The inability to comply with the decision of the boundary commission doesn't entitle any of the parties involved to unilaterally define what is acceptable or not.

  How many versions of the same truth can exist at the same time. Accepted , not accepted, rejected, in crisis, illegal, unjust, unable to comply, accepted in principal but lacking the principle of implementation. All these for the same decision that was agreed, signed and was final and binding.

 A non-speedy implementation of the EEBC decision, ignoring details of the signed agreement, acceptance only in principle, prolongation of the cost to keep the peace keepers in the region and holding hostage development and essentially the people of both countries, will only frustrate efforts for peace. Ignoring the international law or faking the acceptance of it, will increase distrust between the two parties and will impair the ability to create a healthy political climate for future dialogue and peace. The impairing factor for trust and permanent peace is not laid on the ground around the border areas. The memory of practices of occupation in Eritrea, the attitude of an arrogant diplomatic language identical to the era of forcible annexation and occupation of Eritrea by Ethiopia, the all the way declaration of war by Ethiopia over a negotiable issue in 1998, the notion of the Ethiopian gov't and opposition to ignore the international law and add claims over claims, in a very expansionist attitude, have created a climate of distrust.

 In order to heal the bruises of the past and restore trust an unconditional implementation of the EEBC decision and respect of the rule of law is the least expected from an ex-occupier .

 The challenge is enormous and for Eritreans the answer is to stay united and challenge, in unity, the known and hidden risks of this ambiguous notion.