“Give and Take”, Ethiopia’s New Peace Proposal: A Deception of the Highest Degree

By: Ogbazgy Abbay Asmerom
December 18, 2004

Part I




We all know that Ethiopia, foolishly, has reneged on its commitment. It refused to accept the decision. Out of its stupidity and its arrogance, it began to ridicule the members of the Commission. It labeled the highly respected jurists as incompetent and their decision as a terminal crisis, illegal, unjust, and irresponsible! It has kept the demarcation as a hostage for four years! The world community did not use its diplomatic muscle to force Ethiopia to comply with the decision!


On September 14, 2004, the United Nations Security Council [UNSC], in its Resolution, 1560, clearly told the Ethiopian government to fully-implement the decision of the Border Commission. It also stated that the Ethiopian government must accept the final and binding decision of the Commission unconditionally, unequivocally, expeditiously, without any hindrance, and without any delay.


These were clear and unambiguous terms. It does not need a rocket scientist to decipher the meaning of these terms. The decision of the Border Commission was simple and precise that could be understood by anyone who reads it with some common sense!


In fact, when it issued the so-called five-point peace proposal, it stated it is not going to cede any piece of land to Eritrea, which means not giving up on Badme! Is this approach a genuine peace proposal? Who can misunderstand this evil approach? The main issue is not ceding or not ceding a piece of land! The closure of the verdict is accepting the decision given by the Border Commission.


Let me quote another Tigrigna expression that states, “A divorced wife who wishes to be reconciled, plans to take more things that do not belong to her.” Hence, a dialogue for Ethiopia, after the verdict has been issued, is to take more things that do not belong to it.


At this time, the Ethiopian government is in a dilemma. Its back is against the wall. In fact, some of the so-called Opposition Groups are conspiring against it and are exploiting its weakest points. Initially, it thought that it could get away by refusing to accept the Border Commission’s decision, which is an international instrument. It prevaricated for a long time! In some circles, it tried to gain some weak and misguided supporters and sympathizers. That evil desire did not last long! It turned out to be realized that it could not fool the world for a long time and in a continuous way.


Belatedly, it realized it could not stay long without reaping its negative consequences by defying an international law and instrument. Now it has realized the evil scourges of famine, poverty, underdevelopment, diseases, and HIV/Aids are threatening its capacity to survive. Hence, it has to come up with some facing-saving device. It knows now that it cannot survive without getting foreign aid. Thus, it wants to please its donors and wants to appease some innocent and gullible supporters by preparing a “new solution.” Hence, out of desperation, it is calling for a direct dialogue with Eritrea to renegotiate the terms of the Algiers accord.


Ethiopia must withdraw from Badme and its environs! Badme is awarded to Eritrea by the Commission. That is the lasting and binding decision. Badme is an Eritrean territory. Unfortunately, at this time, it is being occupied illegally by Ethiopia! Hence, there is no such a thing called “give and take” approach to resolve the issues on Badme! There is no other territory that Eritrea is going to take from Ethiopia, even if Ethiopia tries to renegotiate to keep Badme.


Without resolving the lasting and binding decision, Eritrea is not going to entertain a so-called dialogue to satisfy Ethiopia’s appetite. Hence, the “give and take” approach entertained by Ethiopia does not resolve the main problem. It is not a genuine approach!


When you read Meles Zenawi’s statement to his parliament, the Amharic and Tigrigna interviews he gave to the local media in Addis Abeba, there was no new thing to be taken seriously. There was no message of hope and peace. He was repeating what he has been telling us for so many times, that is he has accepted the 85%, but not the 15% of the Border Commission’s Decision. His words are hollow and clinging cymbal. There was no grain of truth to be believed! He spoke of villages and homes being divided, if the decision is to be implemented in the Badme area!


The Border decision has provisions on how individuals are to be accommodated. Individuals who are Eritreans will be relocated to Eritrea and Ethiopians will be relocated to Ethiopia. Demarcation will not split individuals. There will not be a change in the identity of the citizens of each country. That was not the intent of the Decision. Thus, the prime minister’s utterances are sounds of desperation. They should not be taken seriously! His proposal does not address the main issue of compliance and implementation! 


No one should be fooled by the deceptive and tactical move devised by the rulers of Tigray and Ethiopia. The final and binding decision must be implemented. Hence, it is possible, after the implementation of the Commission’s decision; Eritrea may enter into some form of bilateral dialogue and negotiation with Ethiopia to create some conducive and a trusting-atmosphere to work out the mechanics of starting good relations and the issue of seaports and trade, as well as immigration issues. All of these will not be done over night. It will take time to restore the damaged relationship. Bilateral and diplomatic relations, after all, are not established by dreaming!


Time is running out for Ethiopia before it becomes humiliated by defying an international law and instrument. It cannot remain unaffected by its defiant attitude for along time! Action is needed now! Implementation is the order of the day. The UNSC must act now and tell Ethiopia to shape up! The world community needs to know that Eritrea’s legal position is very clear, which is outside of the Border Commission’s Decision, there is no other mechanism that brings peace to the Horn of Africa. If Ethiopia insists on continuous defiance, it must be punished. Severe sanctions must be imposed and remain intact until it complies with the terms of the sanctions.


A “give and take” approach or scenario for Ethiopia means to trade Badme for Zalambesa, Tserona, and Altiena, or a perpetual free use of Eritrean seaports! Eritrea is not going to trade places. If Badme is given to Ethiopia under some form of negotiation, Eritrea will be considered as the aggressor and will be required to pay a hefty sum of compensation. We all know that the Tigrians and Ethiopians have been boasting of reversing an “aggression they considered was perpetrated by Eritrea.”  It should be very clear, at this time; Eritrea does not believe in trading places and will not accommodate such foolhardy method of deception! All things considered, “give and take’ is not an option for Eritrea. Implementation of the demarcation directive, issued by the Commission, is the only legal and practical solution!