Ethiopia condemns Italy's position on EritreaMarch 22nd, 2012
Ethiopia on Thursday condemned Italy's position on Addis Ababa's standoff with Asmara, accusing the European country of issuing "biased and ill informed information" following Ethiopia's recent decision to attack military installations in Eritrea.
Ethiopia's Foreign Affairs Ministry expressed dismay over the Italian position on "Eritrea's destabilising activities" in the Horn of Africa after Italy, last week, said it firmly condemned "every recourse to violence".
This comes after [LINK=http://theafricareport.com/index.php/20120315501807324/east-horn-africa/after-10-years-ethiopia-attack-eritrean-military-bases-501807324.html]Ethiopia launched an offensive on three camps,[/LINK] 14, 17 and 18 kilometres inside Eritrean territory, raising fears of a renewed military standoff between the two neighbours. Rome urged the two countries to "refrain from other [means] that violate fundamental principles of international co-existence".
"The Italian Foreign Ministry issued a totally biased and ill-informed statement concerning Eritrea on 16 March 2012," said the ministry, "Italy has come out in defence of Eritrea's subversive activities in the Horn".
This is the first diplomatic row to have erupted after Ethiopia attacked military bases inside Eritrea last week, shortly after which Shemeles Kemal, State Minister of Communications, argued that [LINK=http://theafricareport.com/index.php/2012011950179602/east-horn-africa/ethiopia-eritrea-threats-over-deadly-afar-attacks-50179602.html]the attacks[/LINK] did not constitute direct military confrontation between the Ethiopian and Eritrean forces but rather as a response to "an Afar rebel group from Eritrea" that recently "killed five European tourists."
The victims including two Austrians, two Germans and a Hungarian were killed when 27 international tourists were attacked while visiting the lava lakes of the volcanic Afar region, close to the Eritrean border.
But right from the onset, Ethiopia's official stance indicated a "direct involvement of the Eritrean government" in the attacks. Addis Ababa said tourists who had been kidnapped by the Eritrean government on previous occasions had been used as a bargaining chip in Asmara's diplomatic activities.
However, the Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF), an Ethiopian rebel group later claimed responsibility for the attack and [LINK=http://theafricareport.com/index.php/2012012350179838/east-horn-africa/ethiopian-rebels-to-release-kidnapped-germans-deny-eritrean-role-50179838.html]denied working in cahoots with the Eritrean[/LINK] government which is [LINK=/index.php/201107285168012/news-analysis/ethiopia-and-un-accuse-eritrea-of-backing-al-shabaab-5168012.html]under United Nations sanctions[/LINK] for playing a part in the Somali crisis. Somalia has been without a functioning government for over two decades.
And while a number of countries have called for calm between the two countries, the Ethiopian government's reaction against Italy's position on the affair has been rife.
"Italy has never condemned Eritrea's continuous violent acts of destabilisation in the sub-region despite the numerous resolutions of the UN and IGAD to that effect," said Ethiopia.
After last week's attack, Ethiopia's Indoctrination and Public Relations Head at the Ethiopian Ministry of Defence, Colonel Gebrekidan Hailu said several soldiers and "anti-peace forces" had been wounded and some arrested in the attacks on Ramid, Gelehibe and Gibina military camps, and also warned that the attacks will continue until the Eritrean government restrained from its "destructive role".
Ethiopia said Italy was aware of Eritrea's support for terrorist activities in the sub region which over the years had caused the loss of civilian lives including Italian tourists. "Italy's lack of genuine concern for such matters of grave concern to the region and the international community as a whole is indeed baffling," the statement from the foreign ministry read.
About 50 000 people from both sides lost their lives when the two countries got embroiled in a war a decade ago. Intermittent border conflicts between Ethiopia and Eritrea have since 1998 led to a "No peace, No war" situation. Ethiopia has also in the past accused its neighbour of supplying extremist Somali group, al-Shabab with weapons and assistance.
Meanwhile, observers have expressed fears that a diplomatic row between Ethiopia and Italy could have some serious repercussions. --TheAfricaReport