Why did the Algiers Agreement become an obstacle to the Pretoria Agreement? Let us talk about the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

Mekelle:  19 April 2024 (Tigray Herald)

Tigray has the most disingenuous and inconsistent political elites. Let us talk about the border dispute between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

When the conflict began in 1998, Eritrea stated that war was unnecessary as border disputes would eventually be resolved according to international law by a competent body. It even offered to withdraw from any contested area until a decision was made by an international court.

Perceiving the Eritrean gesture as a sign of weakness, the TPLF waged a senseless war and engaged in vengeful acts against Eritreans in Ethiopia.

After two years of negotiations, marked by three rounds of wars that cost blood, tears, and treasure, the TPLF agreed that the boundary should be decided by international arbitration. In the December 2000 Algiers Agreement, the two countries agreed on three major points: (1) the establishment of a boundary commission that would have the “sole” authority not only to ‘delimit’ the border but also to ‘demarcate’ it, (2) the decision of the Commission would be based on colonial treaties of 1900, 1902, and 1907, and would not make decisions “ex aequo et bono” (from equity and conscience)—meaning decisions would be based solely on colonial treaties, not on current who administered it or who are its inhabitants, and (3) the delimitation and demarcation determinations of the Commission would be ‘final and binding,’ and both countries would respect the determined border.

One might wonder why it took two years of bloodshed for the TPLF to agree to what Eritrea proposed on May 14, 1998.

But let us continue. In April 2002, the EEBC issued its delimitation decision. The Eritrean leadership, wisely, did not celebrate the awarding of Badme, hoping to offer the TPLF leadership a face-saving opportunity to claim whatever was awarded to them as Badme. After initially declaring a significant victory at the court, in September 2003, Prime Minister Meles wrote a letter to the Secretary-General of the UN, Kofi Annan, formally rejecting the EEBC decision, calling it “illegal, unjust, and irresponsible.”

Then there was a lot of acrobatics that I don’t want to waste anyone’s time detailing. However, three things that happened during this period are important to mention. First, the UN cartography team developed a 1:25 scale map of the boundary between the two countries, which was more precise than the previously used 1:100 scale, to facilitate the placement of boundary pillars. Second, the EEBC, after a request from Ethiopia, not Eritrea, clearly informed the two parties that Badme belonged to Eritrea and asked the TPLF to immediately cease its illegal population transfers to the area. Third, the EEBC continued to urge Ethiopia to begin demarcation, which was consistently ignored.

Initially, Meles’s excuse was that implementing the decision would provoke backlash from his army, potentially destabilizing the country—an apparent scare tactic aimed at the West. Then, he introduced the weird term, accepting the ruling of the EEBC “in principle” but demanding dialogue to essentially change the verdict.

This raises a question: hadn’t the countries already negotiated and signed an agreement in Algiers  wherein they agreed that the decision of the commission would be final and binding?

Faced with the intransigence of the TPLF, the EEBC demarcated the border through coordinates and declared that it had fulfilled its mandate, asking the parties to respect each other’s sovereignty. A copy of these coordinates was placed on a 1:25,000 scale map and handed over to the two countries. The issue shifted from ‘contested territory’ to ‘occupied territory’.

An important point to mention is that two of the five EEBC judges were chosen by Ethiopia, another two by Eritrea, and the President of the Commission by the UN Secretary-General. Each decision of the Commission was unanimous.

Then, the TPLF began presenting weird arguments about why the decision of the #EEBC is null and void. Initially, it was because Eritrea imposed restrictions on UNMEE, leading to its withdrawal; they argued that the Algiers Agreement and its outcomes are null and void. They failed to mention that UNMEE was deployed to monitor the border until demarcation was completed. Once it was demarcated, there was no further need for it.

The weird m logic these days is that the boundary decision is null and void because #Eritrean troops entered #Ethiopian territory—this, despite being at the request of the country’s sovereign government. By this logic, since Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006, Somalia could now claim the Ogaden region. What is fascinating is that this argument is also being propagated by so-called intellectuals, from whom one would expect a higher level of integrity.

Finally, what the TPLF cadres fail to mention is that all these years were not only marked by their illegal occupation of Eritrean territories but also by incessant hostility, terrorist attacks, efforts to rally the region to overthrow the government in Eritrea, and all forms of diplomatic pressure and economic sabotage, including unjustified sanctions.

Even when, in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy declared his acceptance of the border ruling, the TPLF, which was ruling Tigray at the time, erected numerous obstacles to prevent the implementation of the demarcation decision. They even went so far as to organize the celebration of Ethiopian Army Day in Badme in a clear attempt at provocation.

To recap, the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia is clearly demarcated, and the two countries are aware of where their borderline lies. Just as one knows their territory at sea without pillars, demarcation with coordinates is more precise and enduring. Regardless of what the TPLF cadres peddle, Eritrea is today in territory that legally belongs to it.

The only outcome of the rants by TPLF cadres will be to sow confusion among the people of Tigray and perpetuate mistrust between the populations of Tigray and Eritrea, who share deep historical and cultural ties. If this is not the epitome of irresponsibility, then what is?
Source፡Horn perspective

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button