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Letter to the British Government on the Anniversary of the Signing of the Algiers Agreement

posted 29 Jan 2012, 06:28 by D Woldeab

Dear Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead,

We are writing to you on the 9th anniversary of the signing of the Algiers Agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia.  The Agreement was signed on the 12th of December 2000 to end the hostility between the two countries that claimed some 100,000 lives and displaced more than one million people from their homes.  You will recall that the signing of the agreement was a culmination of long mediation efforts by the international community and was witnessed by guarantors including the UN, the AU, the EU, the US and leaders of a number of countries. 

The Algiers Agreement gave legal mandate to an independent commission, composed of five leading international lawyers based in The Hague, to reach a final and binding agreement on the status of the disputed border.  It has now been over seven years since the commission rendered its verdict.  However, Ethiopia's flagrant disregard for the commission's decision means demarcation of the border is yet to take place.

In line with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, the Algiers Agreement implicitly permitted all necessary political, diplomatic, economic and military measures to be applied against the party that violates the agreement. The guarantors of the agreement, however, have chosen to turn a blind eye when the final and binding agreement was disregarded by Ethiopia.  Eritrean sovereign land is still occupied by Ethiopia and many displaced Eritreans are unable to return to their villages.  

Unfortunately, the British government’s policy of appeasement and substantial financial and diplomatic support has emboldened the Ethiopian government to continue with its intransigence. This in turn has created the current crisis in the Horn of Africa. The Action Group for Eritrea and representatives of British-Eritrean communities have, on various occasions, met with members of your staff at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In these occasions, we have consistently registered our complaints and explained how the British government’s policy is fuelling the conflict and prolonging the suffering of the Eritrean people and others in the region.  We have also repeatedly requested that the British government use its influence to apply political pressure on Ethiopia to comply with its obligation under the peace agreement.    

Quite to the contrary and to the dismay of Eritreans and all peace loving people, Britain has called for sanctions against Eritrea for allegedly supplying weapons to Somali insurgents.  The call for sanctions is being advanced with no credible evidence to prove the allegation.  You will be aware that the evidence presented by the UN Monitoring Group in 2006 was later proved to be completely false.    

At a time when the Eritrean army is facing the Ethiopian army that has illegally occupied sovereign Eritrea’s territory, a call for a ban on the import of weapons for self-defence is irresponsible.  This outrageous bias and politically motivated move by the British government will only lead to further destabilisation and has the potential to plunge the whole region into more crises.  This is another unjust decision that will be recorded along with the long list of historic grievances that the Eritrean people have against successive British governments.  We would like to take this opportunity to inform you that we oppose any sanctions against Eritrea and will do all that is possible and legal to thwart the sanctions and defend the interest of all people in the Horn of Africa. 

We are of the opinion that demarcation of the border between Eritrea and Ethiopia would allow both countries to concentrate their limited resources on economic development and normalisation of their relations. It is only when there is justice that peace can prevail, and it is only when there is peace that a sustainable development can be achieved.  In addition to saving innocent lives and avoiding destruction, it is in the interest of Britain to advance a just policy and encourage Ethiopia to comply with the Algiers Agreement and the commission’s verdict. 

We again call upon the British government to adopt a policy that is fair, balanced and just, to allow mutual trust to develop so that the people in the Horn of Africa can live in peace for once.   We would be more than happy to meet you and discuss the matter at your convenient time.