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Ethiopia uncompromising on Eritrea border

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December 7, 2008 (ADDIS ABABA) – The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement Sunday reiterating its position on the border dispute between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Eritrea and Ethiopia fought a war from 1998 to 2000. The heavily militarized border between the two nations has not been mutually recognized.

An independent Boundary Commission ruled in the Hague in 2002, in a “final and binding” decision, which Ethiopia does not recognize.

The Foreign Ministry stated Sunday, “Since May 1998 when Eritrea invaded Ethiopia and earlier, Ethiopia has consistently maintained any and all differences with Eritrea should be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law. Even after Eritrea’s invasion, Ethiopia only exercised its right to self-defence after exhausting all avenues to try to persuade Eritrea to withdraw its troops.”

The statement continued, “Thus, with respect to any movement in the peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the ball is in Eritrea’s court. Mutual friends and others should have no illusions, and fully understand Ethiopia’s position.”

The Ethiopian diplomats characterized their position as “consistently constructive” but disclosed “Ethiopia may have reached the end of the road in terms of what can be expected of its contributions to peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea.”

“The lack of movement is now the responsibility of Eritrea, and Eritrea alone,” said the Foreign Ministry.

Eritrea for its part considers that Ethiopia violated its commitment to the ruling of the independent boundary experts.

Last month the Eritrean Ambassador to the United States Girmai Gebremariam underscored that one main grievance against Ethiopia and its ally the United States is that the two attempted to derail the legal path of the Boundary Commission and change the ruling, according to an Eritrean state news agency.

Girmai urged adherence to the demarcation of the Boundary Commission and complained further that Washington had confiscated remittances sent by Eritrean citizens to their respective families and closed down the Eritrean Consulate in Oakland.

(ST)

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