- As tension again builds up on the Eritrean-Ethiopian border, the government of Eritrea blames UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for having failed to do his duties during three years. The UN, on its parts, blames the limitations put on the movement for UN peacemakers by the Eritrean government for the current crisis. Asmara seems willing to leave the UN peace process.
Eritrea's Embassy in Washington today answered forcefully on the criticism against the Asmara government for its limitation on the movement of UN peacekeepers monitoring the Ethiopian-Eritrean border. These limitations have left to a shrinking UN involvement, UN threats to withdraw its peacekeepers, renewed military movements by both countries and growing fears of a new war.
According to the Eritrean Embassy, however, Mr Annan and world media are making biased reports on the real reasons for this current crisis. The Office of the UN Secretary-General had "tried to cover up the failure of the UN Secretary Council and the international community to enforce its own resolutions and to uphold the rule of law," the Embassy alleges.
"Instead of condemning the Ethiopian government for its continued rejection of the Final and Binding decision of the Eritrean-Ethiopia Border Commission [EEBC], as well as pressuring Ethiopia to allow the EEBC (the sole mandated body) to perform its duties of demarcating the border without further delay, and without further preconditions, they are trying to wrongly shift the blame to Eritrea," the Embassy says.
To document the Eritrean government's "patience and diplomatic skills," afrol News was given access to eleven letters from Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki to Mr Annan, written between November 2003 and October 2005. The letters clearly document how the relation between the two leaders slowly becomes sour.
Two years ago, President Afewerki is marked by self-confidence and optimism when addressing the UN Secretary-General. He strongly deplores Ethiopia's public statement indicating Addis Ababa not will accept the conclusions of the border commission. The Eritrean President seems confident that the UN and other guaranteeing signatories to the peace treaty will not accept Ethiopia's announcement and "ensure the respect of the rule of law," even by using force. Three times, the letter threatens with new war against Ethiopia.
During the end of 2003 and in 2004, these hopes are crumbling. President Afewerki is annoyed by repeated attempts by the UN leader to send an Envoy with the mission to untie the political knot. Such an Envoy would only create "complications", the Eritrean leader writes on various occasions, as the only solution was to force Ethiopia to respect the border ruling. Negative reports in the world press visibly are irritating the President.
By the second half of 2004, the tone in his letters to Mr Annan is getting bitter. In August 2004, President Afewerki expresses his disappointment with Mr Annan's visit, saying the UN leader had "intimated" the Eritrean leadership. He indicates that Mr Annan had chosen to "depart early" because discussions had not been fruitful.
During 2004 and 2005, the Eritrean President starts accusing Mr Annan and his Special Envoy for Ethiopia and Eritrea, Lloyd Axworthy, of acting outside their mandates. Mr Annan is accused of "shying" from taking responsibility. "Indeed, the actions you have taken seem intended at derailing the legal process," President Afewerki writes to Mr Annan on 17 January this year.
President Afewerki in his latest letters to the UN Secretary-General seems disillusioned. He keeps reminding Mr Annan of the UN's duty to force Ethiopia into respecting the border ruling, but seems more frustrated over "the unacceptable and false campaign" the UN allegedly heads against Eritrea.
The Eritrean leader indeed seems to have given up on the UN path to implement the Eritrean-Ethiopian peace. While the letters forwarded to afrol News do not touch the current crisis, they clearly indicate that President Afewerki has lost faith in UN efforts to fulfil the peace process. That, in turn, may explain Eritrea's sudden unilateral actions that may lead to the withdrawal of the UN peacekeepers.
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