I read an article on “thinkpress” website written by Salih Nur under the title: “How could a Lasting Peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea be achieved?” with the subtitle: “After more than a decade of low-level hostilities and sour relations, there are signs Eritrea and Ethiopia could be ready to talk again”. The approach of the writer is optimistic and positive but I didn’t read any article for the writer before. This article is clearly written and to the point. The strangest thing in his article and many other articles is that most of writers avoided commenting on South Sudan’s mediation between Ethiopia and Eritrea. No mentioning for this initiative in African media at all! I made very positive comments on this initiative even during the military tension between Sudan and South Sudan because I was sure at that time that the tension will not lead the two countries to a new cycle of wide range military conflict. After 25 years of civil war, no more war; Sudanese people in North and in South will not support war initiators and will not give extremists any other chance.
According to my point of view, Salih’s article highlighted the realistic part of the “problem and the solution”:
(… This narrow approach was exacerbated by a flawed arbitration process which focused in on legal matters rather than political disagreements. Legal methods are inherently conservative and inflexible, and the clause of Algiers Agreement which said the boundary decision would be “final and binding” left no leeway for cooperation – instead, it propelled both parties into a zero-sum game)
The writer highlighted the economic side of the problem:
(Any peace initiative should go beyond previous negotiations in seeking a comprehensive settlement of the root causes of the conflict – both economic and political. One major contention is land-locked Ethiopia’s claim of a “right of access to sea” either through incorporation of some Eritrean territory along the coast or guaranteed lease of the port of Assab. Previous fears that Ethiopia could claim access to the sea by military force make Eritrea’s insistence that Ethiopia unconditionally respect Eritrea’s territorial sovereignty all the more salient. The lease of Assab to Ethiopia would likely be in Eritrea’s economic interest, but a history of Ethiopian (previously Abyssinian) attempts to annex the country mean mistrust is high. Any peace effort must come up with an intelligent way to address this and other complex issues.
The first step in answering this question is to examine why the Algiers Agreement failed. On the one hand, there is some truth to the argument that neither Ethiopia nor Eritrea had any real interest in the process to begin with. But at the same time, there was also a multitude of real and complex issues which hindered any possible reconciliation)