President Isaias attacks UN Security Council for “continued injustices”…..
President Isaias broadcast a New Year message to the people of Eritrea "both inside the country and abroad, to the members of the Eritrean Defense Force as well as to friends and well-wishers of Eritrea." In a message broadcast on TV and Radio he said the Eritrean people had secured and preserved their independence and territorial integrity through solid determination, unity and sacrifice. He underlined the steadfastness and commitment that they continued to display "in the arduous journey of nation-building and development', describing this as an eloquent testimony to the country's future. He did not appear to offer much in the way of any relaxation of current policies.
The President also sent a New Year message to several Heads of State and Government on the occasion though the names of the countries were not released. The President said he wanted once again to draw attention to the "continued injustices meted to Eritrea" by the UN. These, he underlined, were: "indefensible acts not only contravene fundamental tenets of international law and morality but are also fraught with perilous threats to regional peace and security." He went on the claim that "sovereign Eritrean territories still remain under occupation", 14 years after the adoption of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission ruling on the border delimitation and demarcation. As usual, he failed to mention that as Ethiopia has accepted the delimitation over a decade ago, the failure to demarcate is the full responsibility of Eritrea with its continued refusal to discuss demarcation.
President Isaias, as usual, went on to claim the Eritrean people were the subject of a series of unjust actions and wrongs from the United Nations and the international community in the past and that they therefore "deserve redress and reparations", and not continued and unjustified punishment despite the country's continued efforts to destabilize the region which had led to UN sanctions. The President referred to the "illegal and unfair sanctions against Eritrea… unjustifiable sanctions [that] were passed deceitfully on fabricated charges which had no basis on law or facts." The President claimed the main purpose of the sanctions was to deflect international attention from the occupation of sovereign Eritrean territories and thereby prevent Eritrea from advocating its legitimate rights.
As might be expected, he made no reference to the detailed evidence provided by the UN Monitoring Group of the continued activities of Eritrea in connection with regional destabilization or the still unresolved problems over Djibouti prisoners of war. As Ethiopia has repeatedly maintained, the critical issue over UN sanctions should be whether or not Eritrea is prepared to demonstrate any intention of changing policies towards the region and dropping its insistence on aggression as the major element in foreign policy. So far, there has been no evidence for this.
The Ministry of Information supplemented the President's New Year messages with a press release a day earlier, accusing the London-based Saudi Arabian newspaper, Alsharq Al-Awsat of publishing a number of distorted "news stories" on Eritrea. It says the paper "gullibly parrots mendacious pronouncements of the [Ethiopian government] that Ethiopia "has long accepted the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission ruling on Badme".
In fact, as Ethiopia has repeatedly said, and as the EEBC accepted, Ethiopia has made it very clear that it fully accepts the delimitation of the Boundary Commission, and only needs dialogue to finalize demarcation on the ground and discuss normalization of relations. This has repeatedly been rejected by the President Isaias all of whose reported utterances over the last eighteen years (since Eritrea invaded Ethiopian territory in May 1998) make it clear he is simply not interested in holding any form of discussion or dialogue. He apparently remains committed to aggression as a central element in foreign policy, a factor that has meant Eritrea, in its 23 years of existence, has been involved in conflict with Sudan, Djibouti (twice), and Yemen and in a full-scale war with Ethiopia, with which President Isaias still maintains he is at war despite the Algiers Peace Agreement of 2000.
In this context, it might also be noted that Eritrea rejected the Algiers Agreement with its unprecedented decision to force out the UN Mission to Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE), a force in the Temporary Security Zone, which was, among other matters, there to provide security for the demarcation process. From the outset, Eritrean forces repeatedly flouted the TSZ, infiltrating its forces into the zone. It then made every effort to try to make life difficult for UNMEE and eventually was forced it to withdraw through its refusal to allow helicopters to evacuate UNMEE personnel for medical treatment or bring in sufficient fuel supplies to carry out UNMEE operations.
The Ministry of Information press statement claims sustainable peace and stability in the Horn of Africa and the Middle East region cannot be achieved through a security architecture that exalts hegemony and "policing" by selected "anchor states" to carry out the bidding of extraneous forces. Given President Isaias' repeated lectures to neighbouring leaders, and indeed more widely to the world at large, criticism of alleged hegemonic aspirations by other countries has a rather forced ring. Security and cooperation frameworks that promote enduring interests of all the countries and peoples in this sensitive region must indeed be predicated on legality and mutual respect of each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. That is why, Ethiopia, for example, consistently underlines its support for regional development and regional peace and security, as encouraged through IGAD and through the development of regional sustainable power links, as well as regional road and rail links.
In this, its fourth attack on international press comment in 2016, Eritrea's Ministry of Information even had the temerity to suggest that Alsharq Al-Awsat can and should provide impartial and nuanced reporting and analysis of news and events in the region instead of propagating false narratives. Coming from a government that is, as one Eritrean opposition website notes, "not fond of the media", and whose own reporting could never be described as impartial let alone accurate, this is a bit much. In 2001 while the world's attention was focused on 9/11, it closed down all Eritrea's free press and newspapers, and arrested their editors and the reporters. They have never been charged, tried or convicted. Fifteen years later, the whereabouts of those arrested is still unknown. Indeed, it isn't even known if they are alive or dead.
In another display of his own role in foreign policy, President Isaias arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday (January 2) to meet the United Arab Emirates Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. According to UAE news reports, the meeting "focused on ways of co-operation in political, economic and developmental spheres within the framework of the Emirati-Eritrean leaderships' commitment to advance bilateral ties to new heights." They also exchanged views on a variety of regional and international issues of mutual concern. The meeting was held at the Crown Prince's palace and was attended by Emirati officials, including the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, and Chairman of the Board of Zayed Higher Organization for Humanitarian Care and Special Needs, as well as other senior officials. There was no mention of any Eritrean officials attending the discussions or accompanying President Isaias.
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