Annan calls on Security Council to act to avoid new EritreanEthiopian fighting

But at the same time he urged the 15-member body to address the underlying causes of the stalemate in the peace process between the two countries, which fought a fierce border war from 1988 to 2000, including Ethiopia’s opposition to significant parts of the agreed Boundary Commission’s binding demarcation decisions.”I believe that the present state of affairs represents more than just an alarming situation,” Mr. Annan wrote in a letter to the Council last night, dealing at length with Eritrea’s ban on flights over its sector of the border by helicopters of the UN Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea (UNMEE), which monitors the Algiers peace accords of 2000.”It constitutes a crisis that requires the full attention of, and urgent and specific action by, the international community. I am concerned that in the absence of concrete action, the situation could escalate and, by intent or as a result of a miscalculation, leads to another round of devastating hostilities.”He reported that Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki, in reply to a letter he had sent him, stated that the Security Council and Mr. Annan himself have “forfeited our ‘relevance’ on matters relating to the peace process.”Mr. Annan reiterated that the helicopter ban severely hampered UNMEE’s mandate to monitor the ceasefire, forcing the evacuation of 18 of 40 locations that had become no longer operationally viable. He noted that India and Jordan, which have contributed peacekeeping troops to UNMEE, have called on the Council to send “an unequivocal and strong message” to reverse an increasingly untenable situation.He also cited Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as saying Eritrean troops had infiltrated the Temporary Security Zone and urging the UN “to take measures to restore the status quo.””I once again call on the Security Council to exert its maximum influence to avert a further deterioration of the situation and to ensure that the restrictions imposed on UNMEE are lifted,” Mr. Annan wrote.”At the same time, after years of frustrating stalemate, it would be imperative for the Security Council – as the principal organ entrusted with the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security – to address the underlying causes of the stalemate in the peace process, including those relating to the Ethiopian position on the decision of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission,” he added.Mr. Annan has previously voiced deep concern over Ethiopia’s opposition to the binding decision of the Boundary Commission. “It is worth reminding the parties, and in particular Ethiopia, that the two Governments themselves entrusted the Boundary Commission with the entire demarcation process, drew up its mandate and selected its Commissioners,” he said in a report last year.The situation in Ethiopia/Eritrea was one of several hotspots discussed today at a meeting which the Secretary-General convened with the heads of the UN’s principal organs: the General Assembly, Security Council, Economic and Social Council, Trusteeship Council and the International Court of Justice (ICJ).According to a statement released following the meeting, participants additionally discussed developments in Lebanon, Côte d’Ivoire and Kosovo.Also high on the agenda were the results of the 2005 Summit and ongoing efforts to implement the decisions taken there, including those relating to the Peace-building Commission, the Human Rights Council, and the UN’s overall management reform.

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