Annex to Commentary on 12/12/00 Algiers Agreement [NA]




It is with the utmost sense of gravity and urgency that we communicate this Open Letter to your attention, regarding the pending agreement, due to be signed in Algiers between the regimes in Asmera and Addis Abeba. We welcome the end of the fratricidal conflict and we countenance the attainment of just, genuine and durable peace. We are. however, gravely concerned that the agreement fails to address the critical issues underlying the conflict in a fair, equitable and lasting manner and that, as such, it will only serve to postpone rather than prevent future conflicts in the region.

We represent various Ethiopian political parties, civic organizations and concerned citizens within the country and abroad. It was a week ago that the news of the impending signing surfaced in the media, and only a few days ago that the "text" of the 47-articles agreement was made public by the EPLF regime of Eritrea. We are, therefore, writing these lines after having perused the said material. We should also note that for at least the past couple of years, many Ethiopians in all walks of life inside and outside the country, have tried to reason with the TPLF rulers in Addis Abeba, raising critical issues with regard to the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict.We believe that the conflict should be resolved in a just manner to benefit the peace, security and development of Ethiopians and Eritreans and the region of the Horn as well. Unfortunately, the TPLF regime has chosen to ignore such civil pleas, caveats and concerns. What follows is in effect a summary of our longstanding views which were refreshed and summarized through an urgent worldwide teleconference session by representatives of concerned organizations and individuals today.

1--The impending agreement has been processed without public participation or deliberation and only presented to various organs of the dominant ruling party as an announcement in the last minute, rather than as a momentous matter of vital national interest to be duly debated and analyzed in a transparent manner by the people.

2—As many Ethiopian experts and professionals have amply demonstrated in writing, the agreement is based on false premises, defunct colonial "treaties"(1900,1902, 1908…) that have been violated and nullified by the Fascist aggression of Ethiopia in the 1930’s, invalid declarations (the 1964 OAU Declaration at which time Ethiopia-Eritrea was already a bona fide member of the Organization as a single sovereignty), inappropriate border maps purporting to base delimitation and demarcation in an area where there were only internal administrative, not international borders at the time of the secession of Eritrea in 1991-1998. For these and related reasons, the agreement is flawed from the start and prejudicial to the interests of the Ethiopian people now and in the future.

3—Article 4 subarticle 15 stipulates that the border demarcation determined by the international Commission "shall be final and binding." This unusual foreiture of national sovereignty may be acceptable or desirable for the current rulers in Asmera and Addis Ababa. However, it means that the decision will be imposed on the the Ethiopian people by default logic because it will be argued that the "draft"agreement had been approved in advance of its signing. This is a patent betrayal of the rights, sovereignty.and territorial integrity of the Ethiopian people. Therefore, it is illegitimate and unacceptable no matter what international input and sanction it may have. Far from bringing about peace and stability to the region, such an unjust agreement is likely to sow more seeds of interminable conflict in the region.

4—A cartographic representation of the borders of the Ethiopia-Eritrea region has been issued by the United Nations for use by UNMEE as a basis in its operations pursuant to the agreement and the ensuing process of demarcating the borders. It is not clear how this map was adopted and/or accepted by the parties to the conflict, but it is of note that many people who come from the region are astounded by the fact that this map places many of the regions in dispute within the Eritrean realm. Equally critical is the gratuitous annexation of the Afar region of Asseb within Eritrea and perpetuating the landlocked status of Ethiopia for the first time since the demise of colonialim in the region in 1941. This fundamental issue of vital national security interest of Ethiopia is therefore being suppressed by the impending agreement.

5—Opposition to the pending agreement is not confined to Ethiopians in the Diaspora. Against all odds, the non-governmental press, operating under the most repressive of conditions has bee reporting consistently that Ethiopians, while committed to genuine and lasting peace and stability, consider this agreement as unjust, unfair and unrelated to the country’s national interests and aspirations. Despite the fact that the ethnic-based parliament in Addis Abeba is a tightly controlled rubber stamp body of the ruling TPLF/EPRDF party, a few members who were opposed to the agreement, raised crucial questions and concerns on it substantively similar to those in this OPEN LETTER. They made it clear that the agreement compromises Ethiopia’s long term national interest; they warned that if concluded as is, it is bound to unleash more conflict ahead because it does not address fundamental causes of the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea; they protested the strange procedure whereby the other government organs declare their accptance of a "final and binding" agreement before parliament had the requisite time to duly deliberate and decide on it. Realizing that the agreement was presented to them for pro forma rubber-stamping purposes and that they were not in a position to bloc its passage, they have nevertheless registered their opposition to it for history and posterity.


For these and many more reasons we could have delved into and despite its legal technicalities and international participation, the impending Ethiopia-Eritrea, set to be signed in Algiers on 12 December 2000, is fundamentally flawed and manifestly inimical to the interests of the Ethiopian people. We, therefore, protest its signing and imposition on the peoples of the region short of their expressed will through genuinely free and fair national debates. We find it especially tragic that some international bodies and governments are giving veneers of legitimacy to the actions of the dictatorial Asmera and Addis Ababa regimes who are anxious to sign this agreement to "legitimize" and formalize the forcible secession of Eritrea they effected in 1991-93. The international community should not be callous or cavalier to these realities and the attendant consequences to be borne by succeeding generations of residents of the Horn of Africa--as if what has been visited upon them for decades was not enough already. It is not clear to us why so many powers and forces are lauding this unconscionable agreement and in a rush to impose these terms on the region—something that would not have been tolerated if the same terms were to be imposed on them.

Ultimately nothing is irreversible or immutable. Still, in this day and age we would have thought that intelligent and well-meaning world leaders and diplomats would have been more sensitive, more equitable and more farsighted when dealing with the problems of others than is reflected here. The outcome of their actions must achieve what they say is to be achieved and not the opposite. The excessive international involvement that has begun in the Horn is fraught with danger. The result could be either a premature departure of third party observers leaving the region to stew in its own juices or an interminable and expanding overstay in the region as in several other conflict areas in the world. The sooner the peoples of the Horn reduce their external dependence and have a handle on their own affairs including their conflicts, the better.

Under the circumstances, it should be clear to all—including the current rulers of Ethiopia and Eritrea and members and bodies of the international community involved in the affairs of the region—that the impending 12/12/00 Peace Accord in Algiers between the two regimes is illegitimate and inimical to Ethiopia. As such, it will remain null and void as far as Ethiopians of this and succeeding generations are concerned.

Adopted on Sunday 10 December 2000 at a Worldwide Public Teleconference of Representatives of Ethiopian Civic and Political Organizations, Distinguised Ethiopian Scholars, Former Diplomats and Community Leaders.