[dehai-news] (MOI) Eritrean Foreign Ministry Press Release

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From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (eritrea.lave@comhem.se)
Date: Fri Jul 22 2005 - 17:14:33 EDT

Press Release

By Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Dec 26, 2008, 13:55
 Exactly two years ago, on 26 December 2006, Ethiopian troops invaded
Somalia to topple the popular Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), which had
succeeded in bringing a semblance of stability and order to the country,
thus ending 15 years of internecine fighting and turmoil.
Foreseeing the perils of Ethiopia's reckless blunder into Somalia at
that early stage, the Eritrean government sternly admonished the
violation of Somalia's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Indeed, in
the IGAD meetings of the Council of Ministers that were held prior to
Ethiopia's impending invasion, Eritrea sought, persistently and
vigorously, to cultivate a regional consensus for a comprehensive
solution on the basis of the following five points:
External Military Intervention: Any external military intervention will
further polarize the political realities of Somalia and induce greater
conflagration. Ethiopia's military intervention, under whatever guise or
justification, is particularly dangerous both for reasons of historical
animosity and because of the events of the past few years. Ethiopia must
therefore cease its intermittent military intervention and withdraw the
forces that it has deployed in the past few days.

Linkages with International Terrorism: The portrayal of developments in
Somalia in terms of the global war on terrorism is factually untenable
and politically imprudent. The overarching national cause of the Somali
people should not indeed be reduced to or lumped together with this
singular concern. It must be acknowledged that external support to the
warlords under the rubric of fighting terrorism was a factor of
complication. Some regional and local actors have also found this
portrayal convenient to camouflage other ulterior motives.

Lifting of Arms Embargo: A recent call by some forces for a selective
lifting of the UN embargo on arms is unbalanced, misguided and fraught
with dangerous consequences. Indeed, this can only imperil the political
process of reconciliation and durable political arrangement in Somali.
Appropriate adjustments can be contemplated when there is irreversible
progress in the political arrangement giving rise to national
institutions that have credible legitimacy and popular support.
Political Process of National Reconciliation: The daunting problem in
Somalia is essentially an internal political problem that must be solved
through negotiations between Somali political forces. The role of IGAD
and our partners in peace must be focused on facilitating and promoting
these negotiations through appropriate forums and mechanisms.

Territorial Disputes: The current situation in Somalia is raising the
specter of territorial claims and disputes between Somalia and its
neighbors. Territorial disputes and claims can only be settled by strict
adherence to the sanctity of colonial boundaries and IGAD should adopt
this stance firmly and unequivocally.
Despite sincere hopes that IGAD, and the international community at
large, would act with a sense of purpose and urgency along these
forward-looking points, Ethiopia's illegal invasion and continued
occupation of Somalia were condoned and abetted.
Two years hence, Somalia remains gripped by a humanitarian catastrophe.
Thousands of Somalis have become victims of indiscriminate Ethiopian
atrocities. Meanwhile, over 500,000 civilians have been internally
displaced or exiled by the incessant fighting. What little stability
Somalia witnessed with the advent of the UIC vanished with the invasion
which ushered in mayhem and lawlessness. To add to this abysmal
situation, piracy with all its intertwined causes and ramifications, has
become endemic along the Somali coast. The port of Eyl, in Puntland, a
staunch supporter of Ethiopian presence, has for instance become a haven
and springboard for pirates.
Meanwhile, the notion of a lasting political solution continues to elude
the international community. Instead, forums on Somalia are increasingly
seeking palliative remedies that will only exacerbate the situation and
prolong the crisis. Without a viable political process that embraces all
Somali political forces, strengthening the AU peacekeepers or replacing
them with blue helmets will only be an exercise in futility. Moreover,
providing support for one faction while marginalizing another cannot be
a tenable means towards achieving a political settlement in Somalia. All
external support must not seek ulterior political motives, it must be
founded on a genuine desire to strive for the common good of the Somali
people. To capitulate, Somalia's worries can be solved along, the
following lines:
First, it must he recognized that external military intervention, under
any pretext or label, will not mitigate but only exacerbate the turmoil
that has gripped Somalia.
Secondly, it must be recognized that the various schemes of balkanizing
and fragmenting Somalia into fragile mini-States will continue to be a
recipe for continuous conflict.

Thirdly and most importantly, Somalis must be allowed to pursue the
objectives of national reconstitution through their own devices.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs
26 December 2008


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