Who will “tear down” the Wall of Hostility between Ethiopia and Eritrea?
The most recent kidnapping events of Ethiopian citizens by Eritrean forces, and an Ethiopian military containment as a reprisal to its action, reflect foreign policy actions of the two countries in recent years. These have largely been limited to reactive actions by the Ethiopian government and provocations by the Eritrean government. Provocation and (military) reprisal seem to have been the only ways of communication between the two countries which was experienced in March 2012, 2015 and 2016. It seems that these actions have replaced the official diplomatic channels and have become the only way of communication between the two governments. The two countries have been in a ‘no war no peace’ situation, following the end of the 1998-2000 Ethiopia-Eritrea border conflict. Legally speaking the border dispute between the two nations is over. The border has been virtually delineated. However, Ethiopia has maintained its position that demarcation only cannot help to solve the protracted dispute between the two governments. A political compromise is therefore necessary to make sustainable peace between the two nations possible and to normalize their relations. This position has been explicitly indicated in the Ethiopian government’s 2004 five-point peace proposal for dialogue. Eritrea, however, favors the existing legal approach to resolve the problems. Eritrea’s approach to conflict management aims to reduce, downgrade or contain the ongoing conflict and minimize its negative effects. Ethiopia’s approach to conflict resolution aims to resolve the conflict through constructive problem-solving, which is distinct from conflict management. Conflict resolution is an effective way to address the interests, needs, perspectives, and continued coexistence of the conflict parties.