1. (C) On November 1, Mr. Grum Abay, the MFA's Director General for Europe and America, presented Charge and P/E Counselor with the text of a letter dated October 31, addressed by Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin to the members of the UN Security Council and to UN SYG Annan. Grum underscored the need to focus on Eritrea's restrictions on the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea's (UNMEE) and argued that UNSC consultations may be addressing the wrong issues.
2. (SBU) In its letter, the GOE asserts that Eritrea's "provocative activities" are violations of the June 2000 Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities and the December 2000 Algiers Accord, and "a serious breech of an arrangement on the basis of which Ethiopia agreed to redeploy its troops." Eritrea's actions should therefore serve as "a valid cause for triggering the invocation of Chapter VII of the Charter against the violator." In contrast, the GOE notes its continued support for and cooperation with UNMEE, and notes the Council's obligation to assist UNMEE and prevent its withdrawal. The GOE reiterates its commitment to seek dialogue with Eritrea "for the implementation of demarcation" of their disputed border. While pledging that Ethiopia "will not allow itself to be easily provoked by Eritrea", the GOE warns that "Ethiopia will nonetheless continue to be vigilant to protect its territorial integrity and to take all necessary steps in this regard".
3. (C) COMMENT: One such step the GOE is taking is the deployment of additional reserves. On October 27, Ethiopia PM Meles Zenawi informed Charge that over the next ten days, Ethiopia would deploy an additional 30,000 troops to the border area, in response to concerns that UNMEE no longer served as an effective tripwire (ref B). END COMMENT.
4. (SBU) Full text of the GOE's October 31 statement to the UNSC follows below.
October 31, 2005
I have the honour to write to you to lay out my Government's view on the latest development in connection with the violation of the State of Eritrea of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement of June 18, 2000 between our two countries. The State of Eritrea has absolutely no justifiable reason for violating the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ) and no valid justification for frustration over the status of the peace process. The prevailing stalemate, despite Eritrea's protestation to the contrary and its feigned indignation, is its own creation, not that of Ethiopia.
Ethiopia, Mr. President, has done everything in its power to ensure the full and expeditious implementation of the Algiers Agreement. It is no secret, we were not pleased with the decision of the Boundary Commission. That view, we will never change. It would be mendacious on our part to state the contrary. The decision was unfair, unjust and can be defended by no one familiar with the situation and who at the same time took his/her responsibility seriously.
But all this, Mr. President, is behind us now. No matter how initially we may have been indignant, we have now, in the interest of peace and having weighed all relevant factors, decided to accept in principle the decision of the EEBC. We have repeatedly stated that accepting the decision in principle does not mean going back to the drawing board, and it does not imply that we are introducing a pre-condition. Moreover, Ethiopia's request for dialogue in connection with the implementation of the demarcation is consistent with the international demarcation practice.
The rationale for the Ethiopian position can be set forth in simple terms. The crisis between Ethiopia and Eritrea did not grow out of the dispute over the boundary. Accordingly, it is either naive of dishonest to claim that normalization and durable peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea could be achieved with the completion only of the demarcation process. There are some more weighty issues between Ethiopia and Eritrea which need to be addressed and which were at the root of the crisis between the two countries. It is this conviction that prompted Ethiopia to present a comprehensive peace proposal which is still on the table.
Ethiopia is committed to dialogue between our two countries for the implementation of demarcation, to achieve normalization and to address all issues that have been at the root of the crisis and which will not go away with demarcation of the boundary only. We want to reaffirm to the Security Council our preparedness for dialogue with Eritrea, including at the highest level. Dialogue, Mr. President, is not a favour that each of us make to the other, or to the international community. In so far as both of us have primary responsibility for the demarcation of the boundary and for normalizing our relations, dialogue is an obligation that falls on both of us.
It is seen in this light that the present tension deliberately created by Eritrea is so unfortunate and regrettable. It is also fraught with danger.
Eritrea, Mr. President, has always been confrontational and provocative. The Algiers Agreement enjoins the two parties in Article 1, paragraph 1 "to refrain from the use or threat of force". This obligation is the foundation of that Agreement and all other provisions set forth therein. But Eritrea has repeatedly violated this key provision of the Algiers Agreement, the latest violation having taken place in the course of the general debate during the 60th Session of the General Assembly when the head of the Eritrean delegation used the General Assembly podium to put out a declaration of war against Ethiopia. We did not respond in kind.
But Eritrea's provocative activities have not been limited to issuing declarations of war. It has not been only Sudan as well that has been at the receiving end of Eritrea's gangster-like activities. Eritrea has been organizing, training, and then sending into Ethiopia all sorts of gangsters and terrorist elements to cause havoc in our country and to cause political instability. Eritrea has been doing this without let up throughout the peace process. However, apart from doing all that is in our power to stop the infiltration from Eritrea, not once have we responded in kind to this war-like Eritrean behaviour.
Eritrea has now taken its irresponsible behaviour to a new height. The latest steps taken by Eritrea to cripple UNMEE and degrade its capacity for monitoring the TSZ, constitute a gross violation of the Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities. Here again, it is not for the first time that Eritrea is violating the integrity of the TSZ. Eritrea has been bringing into the TSZ its regular army under the guise of the police and the militia beginning from the very establishment of the TSZ. But the latest development represents a violation of greater magnitude, for what Eritrea has embarked upon is a massive violation of the integrity of the TSZ to the point of making the zone meaningless as a line of separation of the two armies. Moreover, what is manifestly clear in all this is the Eritrean attempt to get the Security Council to do its bidding by holding UNMEE personnel hostage. This should not be allowed to succeed.
The Agreement on Cessation of Hostilities is unambiguous with respect to the obligation of the Security Council should one or both parties violate the commitment made to respect the ceasefire. In Article 14(a) the Council along with the African regional organization (the OAU then, now the AU) have agreed to commit themselves to guarantee the respect for this commitment by the two parties through, as the Agreement puts it succinctly:
measures to be taken by the international community should one or both of the parties violate this commitment, including appropriate measures to be taken under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter by the UN Security Council.
Accordingly, the violation of the ceasefire Agreement by Eritrea cannot be a valid cause for UNMEE to withdraw. It should rather be a valid cause for triggering the invocation of Chapter VII of the Charter against the violence. One thing should be clear in this regard, Mr. President. The TSZ is an area created, upon the redeployment of Ethiopian
SIPDIS troops, and handed over to UNMEE by those same Ethiopian troops. As such, the protection of the integrity of the TSZ has no substitute for peace. As things stand now, let alone ensuring the integrity of the TSZ, UNMEE has been bereft of the capacity even to protest the security of its own personnel. Notwithstanding all this, Ethiopia has taken no retaliatory action. We have continued to co-operate fully with UNMEE. We wish to seize this opportunity to reassure the Troop Contributing Countries and the Security Council that we will continue to do whatever is humanly possible to support UNMEE fulfill its obligation. Ethiopia is fully aware of its heavy responsibility, and will not allow itself to be easily provoked by Eritrea.
However, while always cognizant of its obligation, Ethiopia will nonetheless continue to be vigilant to protect its territorial integrity and to take all necessary steps in this regard. We have both the capacity and determination to defend our legitimate rights and our peace. We have been and we will continue to be patient and hopefully this would not be viewed as a sign of weakness. But Ethiopia's effort should be supported by the Security Council. The Council's responsibility for international peace and security makes this imperative. We are at present in a situation where the TSZ has been undermined, and UNMEE's monitoring capacity is
SIPDIS totally degraded. The Council cannot ignore that this is a serious breach of an arrangement on the basis of which Ethiopia agreed to redeploy its troops. UNMEE has an obligation to monitor the TSZ and the Council has an obligation to help UNMEE carry out its mandate. It is also unwise and inappropriate to allow Eritrea to think that its attempt at blackmailing the Security Council by holding UNMEE personnel hostage, would work.
Please accept, Mr. President, the assurances of my highest consideration.