I really appreciate Dr Abiy’s recent bold step to rectify the mismanagement of his predecessors with regard to Eritrea. Given the counterpart across the border showed no interest to negotiate in the past fifteen plus years, playing on their ground is the only viable solution if we wanted to change the status quo now. That is only by implementing the Algiers Agreement, and decision by the Ethiopia Eritrea Border Commission (EEBC).
Most of us talk about giving up Badme. The is one thing, but there is even a greater devil in the details of the Agreement. This Agreement gave life to dead Colonial Agreements between Menelek II & Italy, made in 1900, 1902 & 1908. The latter one was the worst of all which divide the Afar People in parallel distance, 60km into the mainland Ethiopia from the Red Sea coast. The 1908 Agreement achieved the colonialist ambition of cutting off Ethiopia from the sea. When Eritrea seceded from Ethiopia the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea was only internal, not known by international law. As we also remember, that ‘Eritrea KIFLEHAGER’ didn’t include Assab. And there was no formal agreement between the two parties on the demarcation of the border. The only agreement was that a then KIFLEHAGER Known as Eritrea to be independent nation, what it constitute was not defined in the eyes of international law.
As a nation we repeatedly failed when it comes to managing anything related to Eritrea. Solving the current deadlock is one thing, making sure we are not repeating the mistakes we were making for centuries is another thing.
Since the decision to accept the Agreement was announced from the Ethiopian side there was much excitement and expectation from all Ethiopians. Most Ethiopian political commentators said ‘now the ball is in Eritrean court’, expecting some positive response. On the other hand the few Eritrean social media accounts are consistent in their messaging and reaction, calling the announcement a mere act to score in public relations. They said Eritrea accepted the agreement 16 years ago, it was Ethiopia who is in the wrong side of intentional law. ‘Woyane’ is just playing the old and boring game.
Generally they are not exited as we are. They insist on the withdrawal of Ethiopian Army from Badme. Sometimes they even mention the Arms Embargo levied by the UN. It is a public knowledge that Ethiopia had supported the embargo if they want it lifted, Ethiopian may support them. That only happens when dialogue is effective.
All the decisions which were made in the past including the Algiers Agreement, war with Eritrea, the demolition of the federation, the present cold response of Eritrea, gaving up Assab…. the list can go on, were decided by people in power without proper consultation of the public.
The people who represented Ethiopia during the Algiers Agreement failed a nation of 100 million people. I am not sure if they are advised enough not to fail it again this time.