- The Ethiopian parliament has endorse a five-point plan submitted by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to revive the stalled peace process with Eritrea. The new peace plan is now causing international attention, with the British government urging Eritrea to accept the plan and the UN studying it thoroughly.
The plan by Prime Minister Zenawi includes a major Ethiopian concession. It accepts "in principle" the April 2002 border ruling by a UN commission set up under the peace agreement reached between Eritrea and Ethiopia in Algiers in 2000. Since September last year, Ethiopia has rejected this border ruling as "illegal and unjust" as it favoured Eritrean interests. The Zenawi initiative, although accepting the border ruling, maintains this wording.
Mostly due to Ethiopia's rejection of the border ruling, the UN-led process of physically marking out the border has not advanced. Tensions have again build up between Addis Ababa and Asmara and the international community has been concerned over the growing possibility of a return to the bloody 1998-2000 bloody war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The Zenawi peace plan today was met positively around the world. Top officials in the British Ministry of Foreign Affairs today issued a statement, saying London "warmly welcomed" the plan. "It represents an important step forward, which the international community has been urging the Ethiopian government to take," the statement said.
Also the UN today demonstrated its interest in the plan. A spokesman of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said Mr Annan had "taken note" of the initiative and that the UN was "currently studying the plan, and how it could lead to the early and full demarcation of the border."
The UN currently has a peacekeeping operation, known by the acronym UNMEE, which is deployed between the two Horn of Africa countries to monitor the ceasefire and ensure the observance of security commitments. UNMEE has not been able to carry out its work due to Ethiopia's rejection of the border ruling and Eritrean harassments of the mission.
The Ethiopian peace initiative includes a five-point plan. Most importantly, Ethiopia has accepted "in principle" the controversial border ruling, although the border commission's findings were "illegal and unjust." Peace was however more important than this principle, as a steady threat of renewed war is hindering development efforts in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian Prime Minister has however said that this acceptance of the border ruling would not automatically mean that his country would cede territory to Eritrea. It nevertheless meant that Ethiopia immediately wanted to start a dialogue with Eritrea on returning to a peaceful and brotherly neighbourhood.
The plan also included an Ethiopian payment of its costs for the border commission, which the country had withheld since the controversial ruling. Further, the plan foresees joint efforts to promote "development and good governance" in the Horn of Africa region.
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