Meles a man of peace? Even he himself won’t believe that
By: kibrom Gebremichael (Asmara University)
December 21, 2004

Before proceeding in to the details of my analysis, I wish to make myself clear that as an Eritrean, I am writing this article basically out of my genuine desire for peace. I believed there would be a sigh of relief after I heard that Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was breaking the silence. I mean the stalemate in the implementation process by accepting the ruling of the EEBC. I read the whole text between the lines and I am each day convinced that something has gone wrong with this man. In such a bulky text there is neither any new concrete development that could push the peace process forward nor is there a genuine desire for peace. Worse, still, one can hardy fail to read the ill-prepared spirit of Meles Zenawi for peace.

Actually this is not the first time that the Ethiopian Premier is shuttering the hopes of both the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea and all peace loving forces as a matter of fact. He has shocked everyone by boldly rejecting the EEBC ruling as illegal and unjust. This being the main derailing motion from Mr.Melles, I now will confine my observation to the last development.

By most account the language by the Primer Minister during the official announcement of the rejection of the ruling was so tough [using phrases such as the peace process is in terminal crisis] that back then no one could really think of any positive consequence. Nevertheless, it takes very little effort and ups and downs to flip-flop and change the tone by using phrases such as “peace is always the strategic goal of the Government of Ethiopia”. In fact this last peace proposal was supposed to earn him the mother of ‘Theresa of peace’. He said he accepted the EEBC ruling in principle, although he is each day convinced that the ruling is “illegal and unjust” for one reason because peace is the sole motive. To that end he could give anything at hand. What a generosity? One Ethiopian scholar, who has made an astute observation of the latter showdown, says, “In his 35-minuite speech to parliament when he announced his initiative [Meles] mentioned the word peace and peaceful 75 times. In his less than 5 minute’s introductory remark to a question session with the diplomatic community on Dec 1, 2004, he used the word peace 27 times. This count is perhaps a record that could go to the Guinness book of records”. And as he aptly adds, the frequent use of the word peace is not accidental. It is a deliberate attempt by the Ethiopian Premier to paint himself as a man of peace.

After all, why accept an “illegal and unjust” decision, in principle? The first motive for the Prime MInister is “the rule of anticipated reaction” from Eritrea. The full substance of the new peace proposal is in no way a major breakthrough except that it adds the phrase “accept the decision of the EEBC in principle”. Otherwise, the rest of the content has been posed everywhere in every initiative for pushing the implementation process forward. This has been rightly and clearly comprehended by Eritrea. Particularly it has been repeatedly and aptly explained that the dialogue proposal is not part of the Algiers agreement and consequently not the legal way towards the implementation of the EEBC decision. The logic is that dialogue and other related peace deliberations were plausible if they had been forwarded in good faith before proceeding to the court arbitration. However, if the two parties could not resolve their differences through dialogue, the next logical step must be to go to the costly procedure of arbitration. Needless to say, once a verdict is given the next step is full compliance and not initiatives to undo the whole process to the failed peace dialogues. In this case the resort only to law will set things right. Whatsoever, political dialogues are next to the legal instruments that currently bind both parties.

But now what Mr.Meles seems to be wrongly but consistently doing is to make the position of Eritrea look ‘unrealistic’ and the ‘source’ of the stalemate. In the words of Mr. Bereket Simon, the TPLF regime’s Information Minister, “the government of Ethiopia is not to negotiate on each point separately but on the whole package of the five proposals. If Eritrea rejects, if shows that the government is not on the side of peace. If it rejects one, it must be pressurized to accept it”. Well, Eritrea rejects and should still reject illegal and sinister initiatives such as this one.

The second apparent motive of the Ethiopian Prime Minister is the dual-pronged motive of winning the favor of the international community. A favorable international image for prime as a ‘man of peace’ could serve the premier escape criticism for defying international law and boost his stature as the best candidate in the up coming elections. In his own words, “the international community has been asking Ethiopia not to appear to be violating the decision of the court and not to seem to be defying the international law and demanding in this regard that Ethiopia declare its acceptance of the decision of the Commission. Well, one should really doubt this statement. When on earth has Meles contemplated about even appearing to be respecting international law and the world community? He has defied the international law of territorial integrity and sovereignty when he declared an all out open war of aggression against sovereign Eritrea; he defied the internationally recognized moral and legal standards when he deported more than 75,000 innocent civilian Eritreans and Ethiopians of Eritrean origin just because the color of their eyes was not favorable to him; he defied the internationally respected the 1963 Vienna Convention on diplomatic immunity and privilege when he shamelessly expelled Eritrea’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and the OAU and forcefully broke into the premises of the Eritrean Embassy in Addis, and when recently he shamelessly declared that the ruling of the internationally recognized court,(EEBC) is “illegal and unjust” and rejected it altogether. Then it seems like adding insult to the injury of the international community, which bears the full cost of deploying UNMEE when the Ethiopian Premier just for the sake of public consumption declared acceptance in principle” of the commission’s decision, which he still dubbed “illegal and unjust” and consequently has ‘no genuine ground for implementation’.

In the final analysis, what Mr. Meles is trying hard is to project himself in the eyes of the world as a ‘man of peace’. However, the international community is well aware that the Ethiopian Premier and his administration had all along been sabotaging the search for lasting peace.