Ethiopia offers an olive branch to Eritrea

Al Jazeera – On June 5, the Ethiopian government announced its readiness to fully comply and implement the Algiers Peace Accord, an agreement it refused to comply with for 18 years. It also said that it will accept the outcome of a 2002 border commission ruling, which awarded disputed territories, including the town of Badme, to Eritrea.

Eritrea has not yet replied to Ethiopia’s call. The Eritrean government has consistently demanded Ethiopia’s full compliance with the EEBC’s decision before normalising relations.

However, the insistence on unilateral withdrawal as a condition for normalising relations is not tenable, not least because Badme was under Ethiopian rule before the EBBC’s ruling and continues to be under the effective control of the Ethiopian government. The two countries must come together in good faith to hammer out a number of details including the fate of the population there.

The ball is now in Eritrea’s court and Asmara can no longer claim Ethiopia’s occupation of its territory as an excuse for inaction.

Ethiopia’s call is genuine, and Eritrea stands to benefit as much, if not more, from a rapprochement with its western neighbour. By normalising relations, Eritrea can eliminate the biggest security threat it has been facing; it can end the compulsory recruitment of its youth into the military, and gain access to the largest market in the region

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