Ethiopian leaders’ contempt for the rule of law should not be characterized as a stalemate
By: Naizghi Zekarias
November 25, 2003

Ethiopia’s defiance to the guarantors of the peace agreement has been described as an impasse by some, and a stalemate by others. One can only say there is a stalemate or impasse when the two sides are braking the rules or do not want a peaceful resolution of a conflict. It is clear that Ethiopia is reneging on its commitment to peace. Eritrea is patiently waiting for the implementation of the demarcation so the peoples of both countries can continue with their lives in peace. If there is any stalemate or impasse, it is not between Ethiopia and Eritrea, but rather between Ethiopia and the guarantors of the Algiers Agreement. And if past behavior is any indicator, no amount of coaxing or rewarding will work with the TPLF regime. The more they are rewarded the more they want. It is like they have perfected the art of blackmail.

The Algiers Agreement was designed to avoid the kind of games the Ethiopian regime is currently playing. It was designed to avoid any stalemate or impasse, the decision is final and binding and cannot be changed. There is a reason why it was designed that way. The international mediators did everything they could to convince the Ethiopian regime to settle the dispute peacefully. The regime would agree to one thing only to change its mind the next day. The TPLF would say it wants to solve it peacefully one day only to declare war a day later. The shuttle diplomacy to avoid war turned into a circus that had no way out with no end in sight. The TPLF regime proved to the mediators that it is not a reliable partner in any kind of dialogue. That is why the international mediators came up with an agreement that would not allow either party to change their minds once the decision was mad! e in the Hague. They made both Eritrea and Ethiopia to agree to a final and binding agreement in advance. Even then, the behavior of the Ethiopian leaders was predictable to Eritrea and the international community. For that reason the solution for reneging on the agreement was decided to be enforcement.

One thing is certain; the current Ethiopian regime is convinced that the international community in general and the guarantors of the peace agreement in particular, will not enforce the agreement. It seems to be convinced that the world community will give up and say there is not much they can do to force Ethiopia the comply, thereby declaring Ethiopia to be above international law. The guarantors are empowered to enforce compliance by either offending party, and yes that includes Ethiopia. So far the Ethiopian regime thinks it is not part of the problem but its behavior shows otherwise. It has clearly demonstrated that it is actually the problem. This regime is denying the Eritrean and Ethiopian peoples the opportunity to live side by side in peace. It is time for the guarantors to act and not let this regime destabilize the whole region.