07/01/2004
Press Release
SC/7972
AFR/807



PRESS STATEMENT ON ETHIOPIA, ERITREA BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT


Following is today’s statement to the press by Security Council President Heraldo Muñoz (Chile):


Members of the Security Council heard a briefing from Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, on the situation in Ethiopia and Eritrea during informal consultations on 7 January.  Mr. Annabi introduced the progress report of the Secretary-General of 19 December 2003 (S/2003/1186) and updated the Council on developments since its publication.


Members of the Council expressed concern about the lack of progress in the demarcation process.  They reaffirmed the final and binding nature of the Boundary Commission’s decision and underlined the importance of an expeditious implementation of the decision within the framework of the Algiers Agreement.  Council members expressed their disappointment about Ethiopia’s rejection of parts of the decision and its refusal to fully cooperate with the Commission.  Council members, while acknowledging the cooperative attitude of the Eritrean Government towards the Commission, appealed to both parties to initiate demarcation on an expedited basis.


Members of the Council expressed support for the Secretary-General’s intention to consider additional measures to move demarcation and the peace process forward and help the parties overcome their differences, in particular through good offices.  They noted that this offer does not represent an alternative mechanism.  They called upon Ethiopia and Eritrea to respond constructively to proposals by the Secretary-General in this regard.


Members of the Council further expressed concern at the recent sharp increase in the restriction of movement of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE) by Eritrea and at persisting administrative difficulties by both sides, which continue to unnecessarily complicate the work of UNMEE staff.  They urged the parties to provide full support to UNMEE and facilitate unrestricted movement of UNMEE personnel throughout the Mission area and reiterated once again their appeal to establish a high-level route for UNMEE flights between the two capitals as a gesture of goodwill.


Members of the Council also stressed the importance of dialogue between the two parties for progress in the peace process and called upon the parties to engage in a broad political dialogue with a view to improving their relations.  Members of the Council voiced concern about recent inflammatory rhetoric by the parties which they considered unhelpful and counterproductive in establishing a dialogue.  They called upon the parties to refrain from such statements.


Members of the Council recalled the parties’ commitments under the Algiers Agreement and called upon both parties to work more actively towards defusing tensions between them.


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