15 November, 2001

(Check against delivery)

Mr. President,

At the outset, allow me to express my sincere congratulations on your election as the President of the 56th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations. I am fully confident that under your presidency, we will have productive discussions and arrive at a fruitful conclusion. I also would like to convey through you my appreciation to the outgoing president, H.E. Mr. Harri Holkeri, for his conduct of the work of the last session.

Mr. President,

Let me also seize this opportunity once again, to convey my government's warmest congratulations to our Secretary-General on his appointment to lead our organization for a second term. Indeed, his re-election is well deserved. We are also delighted that the United Nations and the Secretary-General were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for this year. It is a testimony and a recognition of the important work the United Nations has been doing.

Mr. President,

It is now over two months since the terrible events of September 11. What happened on that day touched not only the people of the United States but the whole world. Not only because scores of countries lost nationals, but also because New York, as the seat of the UN, is, in many ways, the capital of the world. The terrorists might have succeeded in causing such an unimaginable crime in the most barbaric manner, but we have no doubt that they have failed to extinguish the hope and vitality that New York symbolizes and embodies.

We in Ethiopia are not new to terrorism. For the past ten years, we have been victims of terrorist attacks, and have combated it. This is also why we remain committed to doing the maximum possible in enhancing the international effort to root out terrorism.

In the long term, terrorism will be defeated when the ideological cover it is wearing is unveiled and shown to be hollow. But this can be achieved only when those who are capable of perpetrating heinous crimes are not only denied safe havens, but are also made to be bereft of any alibi. This is where, among other things, the fight against poverty becomes all the more critical.

Mr. President,

The fight against poverty is not as elusive as the fight against terrorism. Here, we know the causes and how and with what to fight it. What we lack is the global political will to act. How conditions in Africa continue to be grime in this regard is obvious. There is no need for me to get into the details with regard to the statistics on the situation in Africa.

African leaders have taken the conclusions of the Millennium Assembly further and have come up with the New African Initiative, now called A New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). They have drawn a broad plan on how to bring peace, security and development to a continent that has been plagued by conflict, overwhelmed with insecurity and mired in underdevelopment. The main thrust of the Initiative is that we in Africa have duly acknowledged the responsibility for our continent's fate. Hence, we fully accept that peace, security, democracy, good governance and sound macroeconomic management are essential conditions for economic growth and sustainable development. At the same time, we are fully aware that Africa at present lacks the required resources and capacity to implement the Initiative. The new African' initiative therefore calls for complementary obligation from the international community. I would like to point out the importance of these mutual obligations. Without these, there will be no future that we can look forward to with confidence. The consequences are bound to be grave. This is the challenge that we in Africa face. This is also a challenge that the international community has to confront, with more and renewed vigor and dedication.

Mr. President,

On the subject of our national effort to seize the opportunities of the prevailing peace in my country, I have the pleasure to inform you that we are now back on track to play our proper role for peace and to invest our full energy and resources to fight poverty at the national level. This is a war, in the waging of which, we count on our partners to stand with us. Our strategy in fighting poverty touches on everything we do: in politics, diplomacy and in the economic domain.

We want to succeed in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic affecting our country. This is a major scourge we have to defeat. We are determined to fight against corruption, and our record is unambiguous in this area. We are committed to pursuing this without let up.

Mr. President,

I would like now to turn to the political and security situation in our sub-region, which, for obvious reasons, is critical for us, as it should be a source of concern for the international community.

The problem in Somalia needs to be resolved as speedily as possible. There is no reason why the situation should be allowed to continue festering to the detriment of the people of Somalia, and the sub-region in general. The parties to the conflict have to sit down without precondition to establish a broad-based government. That is what was called for by IGAD at summit level in November 2000. This has to be implemented. This is the most viable alternative. Doing less will amount to abandoning Somalia for international terrorists to wreak havoc in Somalia and in the sub-region. The establishment of a broad-based government in Somalia that includes all the major political forces in the country is a crucial step towards peace-making in Somalia which has no other substitute. Ethiopia intends, along with other members of the IGAD sub-committee on Somalia, to play a more pro-active role for the realization of this objective.

We are also prepared to do our level best to assist in the process of national reconciliation in the Sudan. We plan to be more active in this undertaking as well. We believe that to bring the peace process forward, the will and determination of the parties is critical. But they need to be assisted, and assist we will, in good faith and with all the necessary responsibility.

Mr. President,

Now coming to the situation between Ethiopia and Eritrea and to the implementation of the Algiers Agreement, it is neither prudent nor proper for me to conceal from the international community, both our disappointment and, more importantly, our growing concern.

But let me, right from the outset, lest I be misunderstood, make one important point absolutely clear. Ethiopia, Mr. President, is committed to the peace process, and to the scrupulous implementation of the Algiers Agreement. This is how we intend to continue in the future. We want UNMEE to succeed.

However, Mr. President, success cannot in this, or in any other conflict situation, be achieved by the efforts of one of the parties alone. This describes the situation we are facing in the peace process between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Prudence dictates that we call a spade a spade. Eritrea, Mr. President, is not complying with the Algiers Agreement, which we believe is fair and in the interest of both parties to protect.

The Temporary Security Zone is required by the Algiers Agreement to be a demilitarized zone separating the two forces. This is the most critical provision of the Algiers Agreement whose violation would logically unravel the whole peace process. Eritrea, Mr. President, has continued refusing to maintain the integrity of the Temporary Security Zone as a demilitarized buffer area between the two forces. Regrettably, this violation is taking place under UNMEE's nose. We have continued to complain, but in vain. UNMEE might have felt that Eritrea's compliance would eventually be secured through appeasement, and by ignoring Ethiopia's legitimate concern.

But the experience we have had makes it unmistakably clear that appeasement has never worked with Eritrea. And it is not working now. What we have started witnessing lately is an ever increasing mobilization of troops along the common border by Eritrea. Under these circumstances, lack of vigilance on the part of UNMEE and its policy of appeasement appears to be making another round of fighting close to inevitable. The Eritrean authorities might have felt that tension along the common border is useful in light of domestic political necessities. It might serve a purpose for diverting popular attention from the domestic front, but it is manifestly reckless and dangerous. Under the circumstances, we call on the United Nations as a co-guarantor of the Algiers Peace Agreement to shoulder its full responsibility to ensure that the Agreement is scrupulously followed. The Security Council should send an un-ambiguous message to Eritrea to immediately desist from all actions which endanger the peace process.

UNMEE, Mr. President, needs to wake up, and take Ethiopia's real concern seriously. Let there be no doubt about Ethiopia's continuing commitment to the scrupulous observance of the Algiers Agreement and to the peace process. Ethiopia will continue to do this faithfully. Ethiopia is also equally determined to respond to real threats, and reserves its rights of self-defense.

Mr. President,

There should be no doubt about Ethiopia's commitment to peace and stability and to carrying out its responsibilities; first of all, in its own sub-region and in Africa, and to the best of its abilities, on matters that affect the international community as a whole. Its commitment to the United Nations endures. Ethiopia is a country that has always been true to principles of international law and to their scrupulous observance. We are proud of this tradition and we cherish it. This is a tradition we will continue to be guided by.

I thank you