- In order to resolve the current dangerous impasse between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the UN Security Council today urged the two parties to sit down with the commission charged with setting a permanent border between the two countries and to "abide by its decisions." The UN has monitored the Eritrea-Ethiopia border for five years, being unable to demark the frontier as peacekeepers originally were to do.
John Bolton - the US Ambassador to the UN who currently acts as the President of the UN Security Council - today called for new ways to break the impasse over the Eritrean-Ethiopian border conflict. The two countries now should meet the independent boundary commission, work with it "to implement its decisions without delay" and stop questioning its work.
Mr Bolton also demanded that the two countries permit the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) to perform its duties without restrictions. Eritrea has banned UNMEE helicopter flights and restricted its patrols since mid-2005 and in December of that year demanded all UNMEE personnel of European and North American nationalities to leave its territory.
The country has increased its criticism of the UN for not forcing Ethiopia to accept the border delineated in 2002, awarding Badme – the town that triggered the bloody 1998-2000 border war – to Eritrea.
In its statement today, the UN Security Council recalled that under the Algiers Agreements that ended fighting between the two countries in 2000, both Asmara and Addis Ababa have agreed to accept the delimitation and demarcation decisions of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) as final and binding. The two countries should therefore stick to the Commission's veto and let the UN demark the border once and for all.
The UN Security Council also urged Eritrea and Ethiopia "to resolve the current impasse in the peace process ... in order to promote stability and good relations between the parties and lay the foundation for sustainable peace in the region."
Mr Bolton however did not mention the current US peace initiative. According to UNMEE Deputy Spokesman Musi Khumalo in Asmara, There are "various interventions which are currently taking place." This includes a US initiative. All were "meant to move the peace process forward," Mr Khumalo said earlier this week.
"The US initiative is still underway and, hopefully, something positive will come out of it," Mr Khumalo said. "We are all hopeful that [the US initiative] will ultimately lead to the addressing of the outstanding issue of the border demarcation." It is assumed that high-level talks were held in New York on Wednesday regarding this initiative.
These peace initiatives come after the UN is considering to end its five-year-old peace mission in Eritrean and Ethiopia. In his latest report to the UN Security Council on the situation in the two countries, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan offered a number of options for coping with the current stalemate, ranging from redeployment of troops to total withdrawal of UNMEE.
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