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It’s Time for Eritrea and Ethiopia to Bury the Hatchet


Eritrean ambassador to the AU, H.E. Girma Asmerom debating with Ethiopian Minister for Foreign Affairs Berhane Gebre-Christos - January 27, 2014

It’s Time for Eritrea and Ethiopia to Bury the Hatchet

By Dawit Gebremichael Habte,

Mr. Herman Cohen, the former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, has published an article titled “Time to Bring Eritrea in from the Cold” on 16 December 2013.

In his article, Mr. Cohen has done a commendable job in detailing the sequence of events that took place since Eritrea’s formal independence from Ethiopia. I also fully agree with Mr. Cohen’s recommendation to normalize the relationship between Eritrea and Ethiopia “following the end of UN sanctions against Eritrea” and the normalization “would have immediate benefits for both countries.

I only take exception with Mr. Cohen’s characterization of the “root-cause” of the “border-conflict” between Eritrea and Ethiopia. I believe Mr. Cohen could have served his readers better had he presented Eritrea’s relationship with Ethiopia in its proper historical and political context.

As part of his “root-cause analysis”, Mr. Cohen stated that “[t]he relationship [between Eritrea and Ethiopia] started to cool in 1997 when the Eritreans created their own currency, theNakfa. They did this without arranging to establish a system of daily settlements for cross border trade between their currency and the Ethiopian Birrh,” implying that Eritrean government’s decision to issue their national currency without consulting the Ethiopian government was the root-cause of the “border conflict” between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

If we are to look at the issuance of the Eritrean currency as an isolated event, we might have sympathy to Mr. Cohen’s claim. But, we have to put Eritrea’s relationship with Ethiopia in its proper historical and political context in order to have better understanding of the “root-cause” of the “border conflict” that never was.

With respect to the successive Ethiopian rulers’ policies towards Eritrea, Emperor Haile Selassie openly declared that Ethiopia was interested in Eritrea’s land, but not its people.

Colonel Menghistu Hailemariam, Emperor Haile Selassie’s successor, on his part declared that he will “dry the sea in order to kill the fish”, using the “fish” as a metaphor for the Eritrean’s armed struggle for independence and the “sea” for the people of Eritrea.

Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia’s last Prime Minister, in his part, while publicly telling the people of Eritrea “not to scratch their wounds”, in private, he was telling US intelligence officers such as the late Paul Henze, “we really hope that Eritrea can remain part of a federated Ethiopia.” Meles Zenawi saw Eritrea’s independence only as a political expediency.

The answer to the “root-cause” of the conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia is found in Meles Zenawi’s interview conducted with his longtime supporter and US intelligence officer, Mr. Paul Henze, in April 1990. The interview was conducted one year prior to Eritrea’s independence in May 24, 1991. This is what Meles Zenawi had to say when asked what his preference would be when it comes to Eritrea’s independence:

“We look at this from the viewpoints of the interests of Tigray first, and then Ethiopia as a whole. We would like to see Eritrea continuing to have a relationship with Ethiopia. We know that Tigray needs access to the sea, and the only way is through Eritrea. Whether Eritrea is part of Ethiopia or independent, we need this access…”

Meles Zenawi was “not sure that differences among [Eritrea’s] different [religious] groups can be kept under control” once Eritrea declared its independence because, according to Meles, “[t]here are serious tensions between Eritrean Christians and Muslims”.

Meles Zenawi wrongly believed that Eritrea’s religious and cultural diversity would become a cause for conflict once Eritreans obtained their independence from Ethiopia. He could not have been any more wrong. Once independence was confirmed in 1991, Eritrean Christians and Muslims took themselves to the daunting task of reconstruction and nation building.

Unfortunately, this did not last long. In June 1997, Ethiopian military units started destroying farmlands and harassing farmers in the area of Bada and the towns bordering the Tigray region, the region where Meles Zenawi and members of his party hail from. About a year after that, in May 13, 1998, the Ethiopian Parliament led by Prime Meles Zenawi declared an all-out war in the name of a “border-conflict” and ended up seizing a third of Eritrean territory at the cost of tens of thousands in human lives. The mediations and peace process that followed the cessation of hostilities is well detailed by Mr. Cohen.

When dealing with matters of “peace and war” between Eritrea and Ethiopia, we cannot undermine the historical and political misgivings Eritreans suffered in the hands of Ethiopia and the international community. Eritrea has been betrayed by the international community for the umpteenth time. Putting historical mishaps to the side, in 2000, Eritrea accepted a peace agreement that was drafted by Anthony Lake, President Clinton’s special envoy, and Susan Rice, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs at the time. Eritrea accepted the “final and binding” peace agreement to delimit and demarcate the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia in accordance to “pertinent colonial treaties (1900, 1902 and 1908) and applicable international law“.

According to the “final and binding” peace agreement signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia and witnessed and guaranteed by the United States and the UN, the Ethiopia-Eritrea Border Commission (EEBC) was explicitly forbidden from making any decisions “ex aequo et bono“. Once the Commission rendered its decision, however, Ethiopia rejected the decision and retracted on both conditions: it wants to negotiate the “final and binding” decision because it wants the court to decide “ex aequo et bono“. According to Ethiopia, the delimitation decision of the neutral commission was “illegal, unfair and unjust.”

Eritrean has proven its respect and adherence to the international law a number of times. It’s time for Ethiopia to do so. Ethiopia needs to abide by the “final and binding” Algiers Agreement it signed as first step to building confidence and trust between the two nations. It is also time for the international community and especially for the United States to let Ethiopia know that it must abide by peace agreements it signed. For the US and the international community to be considered as honest brokers, they have to be impartial and fair.

Mr. Herman Cohen’s recommendation for Ethiopia to vacate Eritrean territories it is occupying by force and for Eritrea to immediately start dialogue with Ethiopia is the best proposal that has yet to come from current or former US government officials. This is refreshing and needs to be taken to heart.

Ethiopians need to fully understand that the Eritrea that was illegally and forcefully annexed to Ethiopia in 1960 is no more. At the same time, irrespective of their historical misgivings and the repeated miscarriages of justice rendered upon them by the international community, Eritreans need to look forward to their peaceful coexistence with Ethiopians, their neighbors to the South. Both Eritreans and Ethiopians need to look forward to the peace dividend.

It is time for Eritrea and Ethiopia to bury the hatchet so that the people of both nations can realize the intrinsic and instrumental values of the peace dividend.

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It’s Time for Eritrea and Ethiopia to Bury the Hatchet Reviewed by Admin on 1:27 PM Rating: 5

34 comments:

  1. Dawit, nice article but you have missed the entire concept. It is not that Woyane or Ethiopia want to annex Eritrea again. Who are you kidding ? It was due to our country leaders who did not want to be a friend of the US at the beginning of the war which costed us dearly. Now, it is the United States that is forcing Woyane to reconcile with Eritrea since Eritrea is about to accept and embrace US as an ally.They have just realized that there is no other way. Many prominent Eritreans, like Petros Solomon and Duru were saying the exact thing. We lost 18 years of economic progress, lost many leaders, 20,000 kids at war and the entire generations of Eritreans in Ethiopia lost their lives. Who is responsible for this? Every time we advocate for the relationship with US and Ethiopia, many of us were called traitors. Is Girma Asmerom a Traitor now ?Sometimes it is good to criticize yourself. Stop blaming others. It is time to release those prisoners and normalize a relationship with US and Ethiopia and may God give us a prosperous future.

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  2. How short is the Eritrean ambassador that the Ethiopia Minister had to bend down to listen to him.

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  3. Really good to see that the Eritrean and Tigrayan official talking...this non sense no war no peace is hurting tigray and eritrea and needs to end now.

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  4. Eritrean - I beg to differ with your recollection of events HGDEF at the beginning of their rule tried everything in their limited brains to side with the USA and failed miserably - the misguided US foreign policy advisers wanted a bigger beggar that can be used to control all of African resources so Eritrea was too small and with no influence -
    I agree with you though 100% those innocent Eritreans and brave fighters should not have been jailed in the first place and should be released now - their only crime was they confronted DIA the evil in a civilized way and Isayas and his foot soldiers do not know any other way.
    As for the 20,000 young and brave Eritreans that perished for Badme and Zallambessa - issayas and his brain dead followers should be taken to edaga hamus and face their maker
    They are savages...

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  5. What it surprise me is that those who don't know the history of Eritrea and Eritrean people to comment on behave of us.I think we need to ignore them.

    If you are interested listen and look to this video at least to know something about your country Ethiopia.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/musetegegne?v=jj8kgRA4HG8

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  6. Correction!!!!!!! please open the youtube.com above to listen.

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  7. Michael Solomon, the one eyed Ethiopian pirate is still crying on Eritrean websites. Grow up and move on. While you defecate on Eritrean websites, let me remind you of your failed state:

    1) According to the UN, Ethiopia is the 2nd poorest country on Earth.

    2) Each year, more people flee Ethiopia than any country in Africa. Last year alone, over 1.6 million Ethiopians left Ethiopia.

    3) One in twelve women in Addis Ababa (150,000) are involved in prostitution, according to the government's own statistics.

    4) 150,000 children in Addis Ababa live on the streets, according to UNICEF



    I can go on but you get the point. A failed state is a failed state and that's Ethiopia.

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  8. The Irony. Ethiopians are among the shortest Africans. The diminutive size of Ethiopians is not genetics like that of the Chinese but it's because of years of malnutrition. In other words, your failed state is not providing you with sufficient nutrition your body needs to grow as a child. In fact, over 41% of Tigrayans (Ethiopians) suffer from stunted growth. You can read more about that below:

    "Malnutrition, Stunted Growth Still Prevalent in Tigray, Other Regions - Unicef

    Daily Monitor (Addis Ababa)
    Posted to the web 31 May 2007
    By Endale Assefa

    More than 41 percent of children under five experience stunted growth in Tigray and an estimated 11.6 percent suffer from acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF-Ethiopia.

    In a press release sent to The Daily Monitor, the UN agency said the deplorable situation in the region was revealed during a visit by the Head of European Commission and Tim Clarke, Head of European Commission in Ethiopia to UNICEF - supported child nutrition sites in Tigray- Mekele on May 29, 2007.

    UNICEF says the problem of malnutrition was the case with other regions of the country where it said a large scale intervention was needed to save millions of vulnerable children.

    "We have just seen a child here who is 18 months old. Her normal weight should be 13 Kilos; but she is only five kilos-highly at risk and we can give her therapeutic feeding in order to give her a chance to survive," Tim Clark said during the visit.

    According to the 2002 demographic and health survey, 47 percent of Ethiopian children are stunted and 11 percent wasted.

    The EC delegate to Ethiopia has provided 7.6 million Euros to UNICEF during the past year in support of the Enhanced Out reach Strategy (EOS)/ TSF-Targeted Supplementary Food Program- a joint program initiative executed between the government, WFP and UNICEF.

    UNICEF indicated that with European Commission's donation, it was working in life saving efforts Ethiopia by providing mothers and children with key survival interventions.

    "Tigray has just over 500 places with in the Therapeutic Feeding Program (TFP) through out the region. For complete coverage we need roughly 14, 000 to cope with on going severe mal-nutrition needs that is still a huge gap," explains Dr. Iqbal Kabil, UNICEF Head of Nutrition and Food Security Section.

    In its fourth year, EOS/ TSF aims to give the most vulnerable access to food, primary health care nutritional awareness.

    It also monitors the nutritional status of populations for better emergency and preparedness and response, it was noted.

    http://allafrica.com/stories/200705310418.html

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  9. If I were you, I wouldn't invest much in the picture. Ethiopia, Eritrea and the region would be better off if Addis Abeba sheds its habit of speaking with forked tongues and focus on substance.

    ReplyDelete
  10. If I were you, I wouldn't invest much in the picture. Ethiopia, Eritrea and the region would be better off if Addis Abeba sheds its habit of speaking with forked tongues and focus on substance..

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am 100% pure breed Eritrean and fully agree with you that the Woyane's on both sides of the Mereb river have turned both countires into failed states and perpetual suffering!!

    I do not disagree with your fabricated numbers for your moma Ethipia above but it also applies to your HGDEF misruled Eritrea!

    I can only advise you to listen to your fool and crazy DIA speeches -where he clearly admitted to his baboon followers that his over 20 years of experimental development projects have failed!! Also it took him that long to figure that out.

    To the majority of Eritreans and especially for those who fought for Eritrea's independence HGDEF and TPLF are one and the same. Both are mafia....

    I do not care much about what happens in Ethiopia but for your education Ethiopia was a failed state for the last 100 years and will remain so for a long time.

    This also applies to our Eritrea where a single drunkard has subdued his subjects to this level including and up to making all their decisions!

    Eritreans did not sacrifice their sons and daughters for this kind of abuse and hope the good lord will deliver these mafia to Edaga Hamus.

    I am 100% certain also that Eritreans will survive the abuse of HGDEF / DEMHIT as well...

    The above feelings are what we mean when we Eritreans say NEVER KNEEL DOWN including to your drunkard leader, his 3rd grade generals, the rest of his mafia thugs and the entire Woyane funded opposition sellouts in Finfine.

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  12. Micheal Solomon,
    ARE YOU CONFUSED? CALM DOWN AND BE TOLORANT!!!!!!!!
    MEHRET YEWREDELEKA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    WE ARE NOT HERE TO INSULT INDIVIDUALS BUT TO SHARE IDEAS AND TELL THE TRUTH.
    "BETRI HAKI TEKTEN EMBER AYTESEBEREN KEMZEBEHAL" TIME WILL TELL US WHO IS WHO DON'T WORRY SO MUCH.

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  13. Weyane doomsday clock is ticking so fast than I thought. Washington will not rescue you,your time is already up.It is also good news for Ethiopians, who experienced the brutality of the fascist tplf police first hand and still have nightmares about night and day of beatings and torture at the local county jail by those pricks. The US and Weyane have been doing transparently hand in hand, because through sowing discord among Eritreans,they draw attentions away from what the usurper regime of weyane is doing in Ethiopia besides, it serves their own interests as well. Eritreans do need to be aware not to be trapped in such schemes.
    I hope 2014
    Will be the end of malelit!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Inaddition It's haileselassie, made things worse,who had a good relation wz US and UK twisted the choice of Eritrean pple

    ReplyDelete
  15. ኣሸናፊ ሶራሞJanuary 28, 2014 at 2:39 PM

    All your statistics is false , we (people) need peace we are one don't try to impose your little politics leaded by little uneducated mind! as long as the politics service interest of the public what is the benefit serving you selfish interest ....please leave the people and let them to be one as were they have bee...... how long shall your politics and your lay continue ?????

    ReplyDelete
  16. Why the writer focuses on what people say and what people did.

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  17. U Eritreans Woyane or Ethiopia don't need to annex
    Eritrea. Eritrea will fail by itself. No need of Eritrean ports for Ethiopia.
    We have enough access to ports. Thanks for our fortune. Your economic data
    about Ethiopia is 100% false and is emanated from jealousy of Ethiopian
    economic growth and progress. I if u want to know about its situation see the link. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/04/ethiopia-faster-rate-millionaires-michael-buerk

    ReplyDelete
  18. Addis Ababa at dusk

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=200624816799205&set=a.136520923209595.1073741828.132168696978151&type=1&theater

    ReplyDelete
  19. Ethiopia to Sell 100MW Electric Power to Yemen

    http://www.diretube.com/articles/read-ethiopia-to-sell-100mw-electric-power-to-yemen_4303.html#.UukQ3rTm2vZ

    ReplyDelete
  20. Somaliland:Grabbing the Ethiopian lion by the tail with help of Bollore
    http://somalilandpress.com/somaliland-grabbing-the-ethiopian-lion-by-the-tail-with-help-of-bollore.-47721

    ReplyDelete
  21. Ethiopia: The last big untapped African market
    http://acquisition-intl.com/images/stories/this-months-features/2013/December/Ethiopia.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  22. Day dreamer

    ReplyDelete
  23. Reply to Dn or dung
    You do not know anything about Eritrea.you live in a completely darkness !!! no clue what you are talking about .weyane controlled Ethiopia is second poorest country in the world even worst than your failed Somalia and has taken Ethiopia 22 years behind. TPLF is failed to provide clean water, healthcare facilities to the people , and also only less than 5 percent of Ethiopians have access to electricity so how can malelit supply electricity to Yemen?
    empty vessels make the most noise.
    Just spend your time chewing kat.
    HAHAHAHAHAHA What a braindead retard you are.

    ReplyDelete
  24. @Mikhael Mihretaeb: Let alone to Yemen, believe
    or not Ethiopia will sell power to your country. Didn't you heard that
    DIA's readiness to by power from GERD? I am not in darkness and I well
    know about Eritrea. Not
    Ethiopians are flowing to Eritrea rather Eritreans are flowing daily to
    my country
    because of the darkness in Eritrea to be better off here. You said
    “Ethiopia is
    second poorest country in the world even worst than your failed
    Somalia”. However, you cannot support by any credible
    evidence. Of course, I accept Ethiopia and Eritrea are among the poorest countries
    in the world. Nevertheless, the general trend of Ethiopia is, by far, better
    than that of Eritrea. With above 94 million populations, the real per capita income
    of Ethiopians is higher than per capita of Eritreans, though it is very low. You can see
    the figure issued by four authentic institutions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita
    . Your boasting with nothing is meaningless, OK? I think you are one of the
    black Jewish.

    ReplyDelete
  25. @Mikhael Mihretaeb: Let alone to Yemen, believe
    or not Ethiopia will sell power to your country. Didn't you heard that
    DIA's readiness to by power from GERD? I am not in darkness and I well know about Eritrea. Not Ethiopians are flowing to Eritrea rather Eritreans are flowing daily to my country because of the darkness in Eritrea to be better off here. You said “Ethiopia is second poorest country in the world even worst than your failed Somalia”. However, you cannot support by any credible evidence. Of course, I accept Ethiopia and Eritrea are among the poorest countries in the world. Nevertheless, the general trend of Ethiopia is, by far, better than that of Eritrea. With above 94 million populations, the real per capita income of Ethiopians is higher than per capita of Eritreans, though it is very low. You can see the figure issued by four authentic institutions. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...
    . Your boasting with nothing is meaningless, OK? I think you are one of the
    black Jewish.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Eight Benefits Of Resuming Economic Ties Between Ethiopia And Eritrea
    http://www.africanglobe.net/business/benefits-resuming-economic-ties-ethiopia-eritrea/

    ReplyDelete
  27. Forget supplying electricity to Eritrea, first every Ethiopian citizen, should get access to electricity before supplying energy to neighbouring countries.
    Secondly I do not hate Ethiopians, weyane is not developing Ethiopia, but very bussy killing,displacing, and sterilizing innocent Amharan people.
    Racist weyane should appear before the international court for crime against humanity.
    Eritreans do not immigrate to Somalia, you must have mistaken them with ....... and also there are thousands Somalians around massawa as refugee.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Italians have seriously impacted your psyche?
    Melese zenawe Asres Tesema.
    Both Asres and Tesema were Banda.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Of course they were banda, thank you! Meles is Eritreans and he did work for Eritrea. He is responsible for the separation of the Eritreans people from their motherland. Meles is more shabea than Isayas. Isayas has more love for Ethiopia than Meles.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Meles is popular among shabeans. Of course they were banda, thank you! Meles is Eritreans and he did work for Eritrea. He is responsible for the separation of the Eritreans people from their motherland. Meles is more shabea than Isayas. Isayas has more love for Ethiopia than Meles.

    ReplyDelete
  31. So, according to you all bandas are Eritreans, even Azeb gola great grad father.
    You are racist , you do not want to accept the reality!!!

    ReplyDelete
  32. You can tell your self what ever you want to hear. I never said all Eritreans or one Eritreans is a banda. Like any society around the world, there are good and bad Eritreans. ERITREANS ARE NO DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PEOPLE. Eritreans are actually Ethiopians manufactured to be different by all kinds of reality in world politics. They can't be no less or better than Ethiopians or icelanders. I can be ethicist but since color isn't involved here, I can't be a racist.

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  33. What weyane has been trying to keep in the dark is now out in the open. Ethnicity?
    So, you are one of the butcher of Arbagugu and Bodona?
    All cadre weyane should appear before the international court for killing unarmed civilian,displacing, and sterilizing none tigrina ethnics. Oh,I forget the international court is controlled by Obama Bin Laden of the united snakes America.

    ReplyDelete
  34. What are you smoking my friend? I am too young to have been cadre and all that stuff. Bedeno, woyane, shabia? Look for the right platform and personalities to talk about those things. All of the stuff you mentioned is too sick to discuss. Inhumanity is the essence of all of those parties you mentioned. That ain't my cup of tea. I am simply Ethiopian, if that is not too complicated for you to understand. You are confused and you want to infect me with your confusion.

    ReplyDelete

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