Security Council mission releases report on its visit to Ethiopia and Eritrea
In the report released today at UN Headquarters in New York, the Council welcomes the statements by the two countries reaffirming that the decision on boundary issues by an independent commission “is final and binding,” and emphasized that implementing the findings should take place in an orderly manner without any unilateral actions by either side. “The international community attaches the highest importance to this decision and praises the resolution by peaceful means of the border conflict,” the report says. “The commitments of both parties [to the decision of the Boundary Commission] represent a pivotal measure of their dedication to the peace process.” The delegation, led by Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby of Norway, travelled last week to both countries for talks with authorities in Addis Ababa and Asmara, as well as officials from the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE). The delegation urges, however, both sides to refrain from any action that could have destabilizing effects, including population movements and movements of troops and militia, until procedures for transfer of territorial control are agreed upon. The report also stresses the importance of demining efforts as an essential prerequisite to border demarcation, and urges the two countries to cooperate fully in fulfilling their responsibilities in this regard, as called for in the peace accord. As for the UN presence, the delegation strongly commends UNMEE’s contribution, in cooperation with both sides, towards the situation of the people, especially in the Temporary Security Zone (TSZ), a demilitarized buffer area between the two countries. “The mission is encouraged by the progress made thus far,” the delegation writes, adding that in the crucial period ahead, it will be particularly important that the Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Legwaila Joseph Legwaila, has easy accessibility to both sides in order to discuss the further steps to be taken. The Council is expected to discuss the report in an open meeting next week.