Statement by Ambassador Vassily A. Nebenzia, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, during the UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Somalia and Eritrea
Like other members of the Council, we are eager to see sustainable peace and stability achieved as soon as possible in Somalia and Eritrea, and in the Horn of Africa as a whole, but we were obliged to abstain in the voting on resolution 2385 (2017) for the following reasons.
The main criteria for instituting restrictive measures against Asmara in 2009 were based on Eritrea’s support to the terrorist group Al-Shabaab, the border dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea, the support Asmara was lending to armed groups operating against Djibouti and Ethiopia and Eritrea’s lack of cooperation with the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea.
In the intervening eight years, the situation on the ground has changed significantly. For the fourth year in a row, the reports of the Monitoring Group conclude that there is no convincing evidence of Eritrea’s support for Al-Shabaab. As for its claims that the Eritreans allegedly support regional armed groups, the same report from the experts says that this kind of assistance is forthcoming not just from Asmara, but from almost every State in the region.
In other words, the problem is clearly a regional one, and it would be unfair to blame Eritrea alone for the destabilization of the entire region. We would like to draw the Council’s attention to the fact that some of the armed groups mentioned by the Monitoring Group have headquarters in the capitals of countries whose delegations are sitting around this table. We can therefore see that some of the reasons that gave rise to the need to impose sanctions on Eritrea no longer exist, while the sanctions regime itself continues unchanged.
We are concerned about the fact that the Monitoring Group was unable to visit Eritrea this year, and we supported the draft text’s provisions related to that. However, in our view, compared with last year’s version, this year’s resolution has only worsened.
Despite our repeated requests, it makes no reference to a road map that could serve as a kind of guide for Eritrea’s actions in the future. In addition, the authors deleted the reference in the preamble to the fact that the Monitoring Group once again failed to find conclusive evidence of Eritrean support to Al-Shabaab, on the pretext that the passage also appears in the operative part of the resolution and according to them was therefore superfluous.
At the same time, however, in both the preamble and the operative part of the resolution there are paragraphs critical of Eritrea that correspond to the penholders’ interests, and we cannot support this kind of selective approach. In that regard, we once again reiterate the importance of formulating some sort of road map for gradually lifting the sanctions on Asmara, as we and a number of delegations suggested during the work on the draft resolution as long ago as last year, as well as during 2017.