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H. E. Mr. Osman Mohammed Saleh, Minister for Foreign Affairs

29 September 2008

Statement Summary

OSMAN SALEH, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, enumerated the many conflicts around the world that were not improving, singling out, in particular, the humanitarian suffering in Somalia and the lack of media attention to it.  The potential for the conflict in Georgia further to polarize the world was an example of the fragile global security situation.  Further, rising fuel and food costs and the recent spate of insolvencies involving financial corporations was driving the global economy into recession.  In addition, climate change with its concomitant increased frequency of floods and droughts, as well as the pandemics affecting millions of people, made for a dire picture of the challenges facing the global community.

Noting that there were multiple causes for those ills, he said:  “At the same time, it cannot be denied that many of them have been exacerbated, if not instigated, by the misguided and domineering policies of the US Government.”  “Management by crisis” had emerged as a new tool of policy promotion, whereby no real efforts were made to prevent and manage conflicts.  The United States deliberately spawned crises and allowed them to fester, so it could maintain control in situations of permanent instability.  There was an absence of countervailing forces, and the United Nations was weak for failing to pursue an independent line and act as a bulwark of multilateralism.

Citing efforts to resolve the border war between Eritrea and Ethiopia, he said the parties had agreed to resolve it through binding arbitration.  The Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission had announced its award in April 2002, and worked to establish that boundary for the next five years.  Ethiopia had tried to destabilize the situation through the use of aggression, supported by the United States, which had used its clout in the United Nations to forestall appropriate measures against Ethiopia, through such steps as the extension of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), in order to “manage by crisis”.

He went on to cite the situations in Somalia and the Sudan as further examples of humanitarian crises exacerbated, if not created, by United States policies.  Ethiopia had invaded Somalia in 2007, and the United States had bombarded Somali villages in the name of the war on terrorism.  “Were these interventions legal, justified or necessary in the first place?”  The United States was “fabricating” a new conflict situation between Djibouti and Eritrea to keep alive the “hot spots of tension”.  The resulting human suffering was too great, and Eritrea called for international efforts to check United States excesses.  The perils of unchecked unipolarism accentuated the need to bolster the United Nations, so as to make it a democratic institution of multilateralism.

In the Horn of Africa, Eritrea called for:  an end to the illegal occupation of sovereign territories; respect for the rule of law and the United Nations Charter; an end to the invasion of Somalia and the holding to account of war crimes perpetrators; an end to interference in the Sudan and the creation of a climate conducive to a lasting solution; and an end to United States meddling in the affairs of the Horn of Africa, which had invariably led to the instigation of crises.

Right of Reply (29 September 2008)

The representative of Eritrea said in response that his Ethiopian colleague had made several false statements, but he would not honour them by responding to each one.  The Eritrean delegation did not wish to enter into accusations and counter-accusations that contributed little to the region’s peace and security.  But to set the record straight, if Ethiopia had cooperated with the decision of the Boundary Commission, the issues could have been resolved then and there.  The successful conclusion of the peace agreement would have brought the suffering of the two peoples to an end in 2003.

But it was a matter of record that Ethiopia and its appeasers had done everything in their power to frustrate and undermine the authority and decisions of the Boundary Commission with the hope of changing the world to Ethiopia’s liking.  It had chosen to flout international law under the cover of such talks, in the course of which it had compared the settlement mechanism to other incomparable situations, such as the one between Cameroon and Nigeria.  Ethiopia had done all that for the purpose of running away from its own agreement.

Eritrea had not occupied any Ethiopian land or territory, and the route to peace, therefore, was for Ethiopia unequivocally to withdraw from the sovereign territories of other nations, he said.  Ethiopia had clearly invaded Somalia, and its calls for peace there were a “mockery”.  Before that invasion, the presence of the international community had brought a semblance of order and stability to Somalia for the first time since 1991.  If left alone, that process would have allowed the Somali people to find their own solution to their own problem.

[Source: GA/10758]


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