Eritrea + 1 more

Eritrea-Ethiopia: Ethiopia ''jeopardising'' peace process, says Asmara

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NAIROBI, 13 March (IRIN) - Eritrea has warned that the entire peace process with Ethiopia could be in danger following recent calls by Addis Ababa for changes to their common border which was delimited last year.
According to the BBC, Ethiopia's State Minister for Foreign Affairs Tekeda Alemu said recently the independent Boundary Commission had promised that demarcations could be refined. Tekeda also said he could not believe that "any person in his right mind" could award the disputed village of Badme - where the two countries' border conflict flared up in 1998 - to Eritrea. Both countries claim to have been awarded the now-symbolic village.

Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed told IRIN on Thursday that Ethiopia's comments would "jeopardise not only the April decision but the whole peace process".

In April 2002, the Boundary Commission issued its decision on the new border which both countries accepted as "final and binding".

"It is time for the international community to say to Ethiopia - enough is enough," Ali told IRIN. He noted that the ruling was final and binding and that talk about "refinements" to the border were "complete fabrication".

"The Ethiopians are doing this for internal political consumption," he said. "They want to divert attention from their internal political problems. It has nothing to do with border demarcation. People have to ask why raise this issue now, when they had earlier accepted the ruling and said they were happy with it."

The minister added that according to the Algiers peace agreement signed by the two countries in December 2000, the UN could take action against any side which violated the accord. On Tuesday, Eritrea sent a letter to the UN Security Council regarding Ethiopia's stance, he said.

An official of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC), which is based in The Hague, told IRIN he could not comment on the Ethiopian minister's remarks. But he reiterated that the ruling was final and binding "as the parties have agreed and recognised on several occasions".

A recent EEBC report accused Ethiopia of "appearing to undermine" the peace process by seeking variations to the delimited border line. Physical demarcation of the border is due to start later this year, and according to the latest EEBC timetable should be completed by November.

Ethiopia has stated that the border should be varied to "take better account of human and physical geography".

However, the EEBC has said that while it may be "regrettable, it is by no means unusual for boundary delimitation and subsequent demarcation to divide communities".

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