No “unnecessary measures” after border ruling, gov’t says

April 5, 2002

ADDIS ABABA, 5 April 2002 (IRIN) – The Ethiopian government has pledged not to take any “unnecessary measures” that could lead to further conflict with Eritrea after a ruling on their common border is announced next week.

“Ethiopians will not take unnecessary measures that could lead the country to an endless conflict and bloodshed,” a statement by the information ministry said on Thursday. “The Ethiopian people should take a balanced decision on every national issue that can defend the interests of the country in a sustainable manner.”

An independent Boundary Commission in The Hague is due to announce its decision on border delimitation between Ethiopia and Eritrea on 13 April. The ruling will be “final and binding”, and both sides have pledged to abide by it. The two countries fought a bitter two-year war over a border dispute which erupted in 1998. A peace accord was signed in Algiers in December 2000.

The Ethiopian government’s commitment comes after rallies by the opposition Ethiopian Democratic Party (EDP) demanding that access to the Eritrean port of Assab be included in the border arbitration. The EDP, which is planning to send a petition to the United Nations, is angry that the government has agreed to border demarcation based on colonial treaties.

The information ministry statement accused the opposition parties of “totally undermining” the government’s efforts.

“Ethiopia has produced its evidence based on internationally accepted colonial treaties and laws to seek justice from the international court,” the statement said. “The primary objectives of the opposition parties are not intended to change the ruling of the international court, but to win the hearts of some innocent citizens that they lost by failing to table alternative development programmes.”

The statement added that border demarcation could only be decided by providing “incontrovertible evidence” and not by sending petitions.

“Utmost efforts have been exerted to enable the attorneys to have a clear picture about the whole issue by providing circumstantial evidence,” the statement stressed. Both Ethiopia and Eritrea have hired legal experts to fight their cases at The Hague.

The statement also claimed that Ethiopia had brought the “pugnacious government of Eritrea to its knees” after the war, alleging it had suffered an “ignominious defeat”.