Contacted for comment over Eritreas allegations, the Ethiopian Government exercised its Right of Reply to tell its side of the story. Excerpts below:
DIPLOMAT EAST AFRICA: Is it true that Eritrea and Ethiopia have now taken their border war to Somalia?
ETHIOPIAN EMBASSY: It is now common knowledge that since its independence Eritrea has been involved in one sort of conflict or another with literally all its neighbours. Today, the regime in Asmara is actively involved in the exporting of terror far beyond its immediate neighbours and its destabilising activities in the whole region have reached an unprecedented level. It trains, arms and deploys terrorist groups throughout the region and there seems to be no end in sight to this continuous campaign of violence.
Ethiopia has always stated that it does not have the slightest intention to go to war with Eritrea and all the evidence supports this contention. The 1998 war, of course, was the result of the PFDJ government’s persistent ambition to dictate terms to others by force. After its successful defence against Eritrean aggression in 2000, Ethiopia actively sought a workable arrangement to normalise relations and to find amicable solutions to any of the differences that might exist between the two countries. It has continued to do so ever since.
Ethiopia shares a big border with Eritrea but Eritrea shares no border with Somalia. If Ethiopia wants to score a point on Eritrea it would prefer to engage with Eritrea directly than go to Somalia. The notion that Eritrea and Ethiopia have now taken their border wars to Somalia is a deliberate attempt to cover up Eritrea’s aggressive behaviour towards its neighbours.
Q: After the Algiers peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia in 2000 and after the EEBC border conflict verdict of 2002, the Ethiopian army is still holding Eritrean territory including the town of Badme. Is this accurate?
A: Ethiopia has always reiterated its readiness to demarcate the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea in accordance with the delimitation decision of the Boundary Commission and resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries through dialogue. It’s been more than seven years now since the Ethiopian parliament passed a resolution in 2004 not only accepting the Boundary Commission’s delimitation decision but also to “resolve the dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea only and only through peaceful means” and to “start dialogue immediately with a view to implementing the Ethiopia-Eritrea Boundary Commission’s decision in a manner consistent with the promotion of sustainable peace and brotherly ties between the two peoples.”
Ethiopia has stated time and again that it is prepared to live with the regime in Asmara in spite of existing differences. But the regime in Asmara would have none of it; rather choosing to try and bring destruction in Ethiopia and in the region in the vain hope that it might one day achieve its main goal of bringing about the total disintegration of the Ethiopian State. Eritrea’s nauseating claim that everything that it does to destabilise the region is the direct outcome of ‘the border dispute’ can thus only reflect the aggressive and lawless nature of the regime.
The main problem with Eritrea is not a border problem. It is rather the behaviour of the Eritrean regime towards the region as a whole. Eritrea’s policy in the region, which is guided by the rule of the jungle and only raw power, is the main problem. It also emanates from its own internal policies, where lack of democracy and economic well being are completely absent, where its people are subjugated to inhumane treatment.
Q. Eritrea states that when it drafted its constitution and elections were included in it, but Ethiopia suddenly invaded it. Your comment, please?
A.This aggressive behaviour of the regime is not confined to its neighbours or to countries in the region. In fact, this is a regime that has been terrorising its own people for close to two decades now. This is a regime that has incarcerated thousands of its own officials without due process and held incommunicado for having simply expressed their concern that the leadership in the person of President Isaias Afewerki might not always be right. Because of the repressive activities of the regime in Asmara, very significant number of the population has been leaving the country in droves, often at the risk of being shot on sight if caught by the authorities. Despite the obvious danger, hundreds of thousands are stampeding to leave Eritrea at any cost. We know how many Eritreans risk their lives to cross to Ethiopia because we host tens of thousands of them. In this respect, Eritrea is one of the largest contributors to the world’s refugee population.
The people of Eritrea have suffered enough. It has now become common practice in Eritrea for the government to incarcerate parents for the simple reason that their children have left the country or failed to show up for military service.
Q. Ethiopia and Eritrea do not have diplomatic relations since it is alleged that when Ethiopia invaded Eritrea in 1998, it expelled Asmara's Ambassador who was also its ambassador to the African Union, all the embassy staff, ransacked and confiscated its property. Your response?
A. Ethiopia has never invaded any country in its entire history. It is Eritrea that invaded Ethiopia in 1998. The Ethiopia-Eritrea boundary commission in its final decision has clearly stated that Eritrea invaded Ethiopia. Eritrea’s leaders are endowed with a perverse logic of blaming everyone for their frustration with what they claim is the international community’s failure to force Ethiopia to implement the demarcation of the border between the two countries.
Q. Is it true that Eritrea is supporting rebel groups inside of Ethiopia?
A. The regime’s lawlessness has deeper roots as evidenced by the fact that Eritrea’s mere two decades of existence as an independent State is punctuated by totally uncalled for wars. It has so far gone into war with Yemen, Djibouti (twice), Sudan and Ethiopia
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