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DATE=6/2/2000 TYPE=WORLD OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=ETHIOPIA-ERITREA BORDER WAR (CQ) NUMBER=6-11852 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 CONTENT= INTRO: The war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, two of the world's poorest nations, appears to be slowing down -- at least for a while. Ethiopia this week claimed victory in its two-year border war with its former province, Eritrea. The claim came after a two-week long Ethiopian offensive that some observers say recaptured most of the territory occupied earlier by Eritrean forces. At least one journalist, observing the battle, compared it to a pair of "bald men, fighting over a comb" as a way of portraying its uselessness to the populations of both countries, already facing a deadly famine. Here now is ___________, with a sampling of international press reaction to the latest developments in the Horn of Africa, on this week's World Opinion Roundup. TEXT: Several newspapers around the world focused on the Organization of African Unity-sponsored peace talks under way in Algiers, wondering whether Ethiopia will be allowed to use the military gains from its recent offensive to dictate peace terms. At least a few newspapers feel that what was really at stake in this war was Ethiopia's desire to get a Red Sea port again. After Eritrea gained independence in 1993, Ethiopia was left landlocked. And more than a few analysts feel the country wants to retake Assab, one of Eritrea's deep-water ports, as a "spoil of war." Most editorials criticized leaders of the two nations for engaging in such a costly and lengthy war during a time of serious and growing famine. We begin our sampling in Addis Ababa, where the English-language weekly Reporter compared this latest conflict to the Gulf War after Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait. VOICE: Fortunately or unfortunately ... conflicts like the Ethiopia-Eritrea war do not quickly catch the attention of the world powers and entice their involvement, obviously because such conflicts do not have much of a repercussion on the interests of these powers. Nevertheless, security is as essential to the people living in this region as it is to those living in the Middle East, Europe or North America. Who, then, should act for the sake of security in the Horn of Africa? TEXT: In an editorial before Ethiopia's claims of victory this week, the English-language daily Ethiopian Herald noted: VOICE: Increasingly active on the scenario are also outsiders with little or no conception of the real causes and effect of the war ... TEXT: Turning to West Africa, we read in the Cameroon Tribune: VOICE: Ethiopian troops will retire only after an agreement has been signed. The beginning of indirect negotiations in Algiers between Ethiopia and Eritrea has not resulted in a cease-fire. In Algiers, each country is calling on the other to be the first to pull out of the occupied territories ... While discussions are going on in Algiers, fighting continues on the front ... What importance should be given to the statement ... by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi who told foreign diplomats ... the war is over?" TEXT: Still in Cameroon, in the city of Buea, the English-language weekly Post sounds disgusted as it writes: VOICE: The story of Ethiopia and Eritrea is seemingly a tall tale of two countries fighting over scorched earth. Far from it. It is a reflection of cosmetic political and military alliances for expediency. The war ... brings to focus the myth of nation-state, colonial trespasses, the inability of the Lion of Judah (Haile` Selassie) and the Red Negus (Mengistu Haile Mariam) to give soul to desperate people and the geostrategic interests of neighboring states. TEXT: Farther to the South, in Lusaka, the Zambia Daily Mail says: VOICE: The renewed hostilities ... has once again brought to the fore one of Africa's biggest failings, and the chief cause of chronic suffering by its people ... The two ... states have yet again elected to settle their ...dispute on the battlefield instead of using established diplomatic channels ... TEXT: To the Middle East now, where Cairo, Egypt's Al Ahram carried this column: VOICE: The ... war was described as a fight between two bald men over a comb, which [neither] will use. The two countries are suffering from poverty, famine and backwardness, but they are ready to spend millions to buy weapons and sacrifice hundreds of lives for a barren border area ... TEXT: And for European reaction, we go to Germany, where the regional daily Thueringer Allgemeine of Erfurt commented in a recent editorial. VOICE: Hunger and weapons -- both Ethiopia and Eritrea have enough of them. They do not know any compassion. Neither the leadership in Addis Ababa nor ... in Asmara care whether hundreds of thousands of Ethiopians or Eritreans die because of malnutrition or die on the flight from the armies. This is why we cannot have too much hope in the Ethiopian announcement of withdrawal and the willingness for peace. TEXT: Turning to Germany's financial capital, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung also sounds a somewhat frustrated note, as it suggests: VOICE: Ethiopia ... celebrating the ninth anniversary of the expulsion of dictator Mengistu these days, seems to forget in its triumphant mood that the willingness of the former donor nations to provide assistance to the country will decline with every bomb that is dropped on Eritrea. TEXT: In South Asia, where hardship is also not unknown, The Independent in Dhaka, the Bangladesh capital, editorializes: VOICE: At this point, the Ethiopians will seize all the advantages they can from an offensive which has been scattering their enemies in all directions. That certainly leaves the men in Asmara in a state of worry, if not panic. For all the right reasons. The tragedy for both Ethiopia and Eritrea is that it was only seven years ago that they stopped clobbering each other when the latter achieved freedom after a decades-long guerrilla war against the former. ... It was a friendly parting of [the] ways. But then economic issues came between the two countries. TEXT: Turning to North America, we find The Ottawa Citizen, the major daily in Canada's capital, upset with the United Nations for its seeming inability to be more effective in ending this fight. VOICE: The United Nations Security Council is woefully unprepared to try to end the fighting... In fact, it can take partial blame for the intensity with which the war is being waged. Despite the clear evidence over the past two years that both countries were importing hundreds of millions of dollars in armaments, the Security Council waited until the conflict was rumbling along at full-speed before imposing a mandatory arms embargo on both sides. This is closing the barn door after the horse has bolted, and it is an all-too-common occurrence with U-N arms embargoes ... [which should] stop the flow of weapons before conflict erupts, not after the bodies start falling. TEXT: On that somewhat caustic comment from Canada, we conclude this sampling of world journalistic reaction to the latest events in the Horn of Africa's nasty border war. NEB/ANG/ 02-Jun-2000 15:19 PM EDT (02-Jun-2000 1919 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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