Ethiopian Premier’s outdated strategy
By: Shabait Staff
July 17, 2004

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, is currently embarking on the exercise of his latest fairy-tale diplomacy. “Please talk to President Isaias Afwerki into arranging any time and place where I can possibly meet him,” are the pathetic words of petition coming out from a defiant, belligerent and intransigent Ethiopian Premier as heard by many lately. Parallel to these diplomatic escapades, the Ethiopian Prime Minister in his speech to the Council of Peoples’ Representatives in Ethiopia this week, said: “We should be able to employ various strategies as deemed necessary to attain our goals. We must even look into our strategies and improvise in order to succeed in our goals for peace. We will therefore use different approaches that are most suitable and bound to complement the situation at hand.” It is not the strategies outlined per say that remain to be the stumbling block. The main issue at hand remains to be the fact that it does not seem to be sinking into the head of the Addis Ababa regime’s Prime Minister that the core of the matter is all about compliance or non-compliance with the rule of law.

The Ethiopian Premier’s latest attempt is a fashionably outdated balloon floating in the air by displaying unique colors as a follow-up of previously failed attempts made to hoodwink Eritrea and in light of UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan’s remarks, hinting out that the mission of his special envoy would be terminated. Characteristically, the move serves as a clear indicator that the Addis Ababa regime and its collaborators will pursue their schemes of buying more time and stick with their foul play instead of opting for a just solution.

So-called Dialogue is quite an appealing term both in its literal sense and conceptually. It therefore turns out to be self-explanatory that the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s language bears no other implication apart from trying to gain diplomatic momentum. Nonetheless, when the Addis Ababa regime imprudently calls for “dialogue”, it becomes quite logical to ask: “dialogue on what and why?” If the objective behind this adventurism emanates from the Ethiopian regime’s ambition to drag behind a case long closed through international arbitration, invalidate accords agreed upon, sideline the rule of law, hurl the legal course into the waste basket and yet continue to occupy sovereign Eritrean territory, the Ethiopian Prime Minister and his collaborators need to clearly comprehend that such a concept is not a choice that can be entertained even from the most naïve political perspective.

Our world is governed by principles. As long as the rule of law is well in place, neither Eritrea nor Ethiopia is above the law. Neither has any authority to reopen a file closed by the court.

Given the fact that the appeal by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister for dialogue on the EEBC ruling is a betrayal to the rule of law, the regime should be told that such a delusion should not have been fundamentally entertained.

As long as discussions on the EEBC ruling are out of the question, the agenda behind the petition of the TPLF regime’s Prime Minister to hold dialogue with President Isaias should somehow be clearly defined as no human being with a sane body and mind can simply go ahead and call for dialogue without setting clearly defined topics and goals.

If the Ethiopian Prime Minister is characteristically basing his reasons for wanting dialogue with the intention of restoring relations between Eritrea and Ethiopia and taking confidence-building measures, it must not escape the Premier’s attention and knowledge that the sole guarantee to any assurances desired by individuals and nations is respect to the rule of law.

There are no bricks for constructing the platform for assurances with Eritrea’s sovereign territory still occupied, war wounds still unhealed and the tears of the people of both countries not yet wiped. The very concrete foundation for this platform as such is respect to the rule of law. There is no reason for two law respecting parties to lose honesty between them. It is impossible however for a rogue-state and another law-abiding party to establish trusteeship between them.

Had Ethiopia complied with the EEBC verdict from the beginning, there would have been plenty of mutual interests that could have tied the two nations. Beyond paving the road for trust to prevail between the two sides, restoring bilateral relations could have been easily attainable. Nature would eventually take its rightful course when it comes to bringing everything back into perspective. Sidelining the rule of law and calling for discussions however, is a clear abomination against the very concept of peace itself. Hence, Prime Minister Meles should be repeatedly reminded that no phrase such as “kneeling down” has ever existed in the Eritrean people’s dictionary.

Should Prime Minister Meles echo the statements made by collaborators of the regime that stress the need for discussions as a significant stride in the direction of restoring economic cooperation between the two countries and thereby benefit Ethiopia from the services rendered by Eritrea’s ports, he should be aware that economic cooperation can be fostered only by the good will of the two parties in position. This is because mutual economic benefits of Eritrea and Ethiopia cannot be placed as a precondition in relation to the political agenda. Like anywhere else in the world, the economic benefits can only be governed by market laws.

Speaking to the Council of the Ethiopian People’s Representatives, Prime Minister Meles was quoted as saying: “since trying to go for the implementation of the Boundary Commission’s decision amidst high tensions would only lead to a renewed outbreak of war within a short period, the Ethiopian government can only oppose the decision and refuse its implementation as it is.” If this is the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s attempt to call for dialogue in fear of another outbreak of war, there would be no other factors that could lead to renewed fighting apart from failure to abide by the law. In fact, if the border issue had been the sticking point in the Eritrean-Ethiopian conflict and should the borders be demarcated based on the rulings given by the court, what other reasons could henceforth transpire that would lead to another war? Logically speaking, if the border issue that had inexcusably been used to instigate a row between the peoples of Eritrea and Ethiopia is dealt with, the demarcation of the border would only pave way for the restoration of relations. The demarcation of the border can in no way become a case in point for renewed conflict. Apart from this, fantasizing about pursuing its illegal occupation of the sovereign territories of others is only characteristic of the Ethiopian regime’s desire for war and destruction to prevail.

If the demarcation process of the border between the two countries is implemented based on the ruling of the Boundary Commission, there will be no internal or external problems that could lead to renewed fighting as far as Eritrea is concerned. On the other hand, if there are any unraveled case scenarios on the part of the regime in Ethiopia that could lead to war once the borders are demarcated, the Prime Minister Meles should bring to light these case scenarios before pleading for dialogue with Eritrea. Otherwise, no one with a sane mind can find sense in this drama when the regime in Ethiopia continues to hold the border demarcation process hostage, maintain its illegal occupation of territory ruled in the courtroom as integral part of sovereign Eritrean land, beat the war drums by saying, “let’s talk it out to avoid another war”. The only option available to avoid another outbreak of war is to accept the rule of law and implement the decision of the Boundary Commission. There is no other strategy that can avert the outbreak of another outbreak of war. This fashionably-outdated strategy of the Ethiopian Premier, like all previous strategies tried out, is yet one that is stillborn.