The Ethiopia Eritrea No War No Peace Situation has to End
The Horn of Africa is the most conflict ridden region in the world. The people and the land are devastated by endless wars. The de facto no war no peace policy that has persisted between Ethiopia and Eritrea for the last 13 years affects the lives of millions in both countries and the stability of the whole region. Bringing this conflict to a peaceful resolution is of paramount importance.
The devastating 1998 - 2000 war between Ethiopia and Eritrea cost billions of dollars in infrastructure damage, missed investment opportunities and lost aid, claimed about 100,000 lives, and dislocated millions of people. Instead of the end of the war bringing peace, for the last fourteen years the policy of both countries has been “no war no peace.” As bad as open war is, an endless no war no peace situation is insufferable.
I. The evils of no war no peace
1. Under the no war no peace policy, direct military confrontation is replaced by proxy wars. Both the Ethiopian and the Eritrean regimes are flagrant in their use of proxy wars. Both states openly provide financial and material support to dissident ethnic and multi-ethnic organizations in each other’s country. They both let their territories be used as training and launching grounds for subversive activities. Both regimes support these forces not because they sympathize with their grievances or support their goals and objectives but simply because they are cheap means to destabilize their enemy. Their support is turned on and off at their whim, they neither forward the cause of the opposition nor do they deliver what they the perpetrators want. Proxy wars are instruments of distraction not transformation.
Proxy wars have been used by all the regimes in the Horn of Africa, to leverage their interests or outright to oust regimes. The meltdown of the Somali state, which decades of international direct and indirect intervention have failed to heal, was fostered by proxy war between Ethiopia and Somalia.
From 2005 to 2006, proxy war entangled the current Ethiopian and Eritrean regimes in the Somali civil war. Eritrea supported the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) which ousted the warlords supported by the US in Mogadishu and declared an Islamic state. Ethiopia, with the support of the US, invaded Somalia in December 2006. It ousted the UIC and instated the internationally supported, but defunct, Transitional Federal Government (TFG). A radical youth branch of UIC, Al-Shabaab, waged armed struggle to oust Ethiopia. It was able to win back most of the Somali territory and gained prominence over the other Somali factions. It later declared its affiliation with Al-Qaida. Ethiopia withdrew in 2009 and reinvaded Somalia November in 2011 when the African Union mission on Somalia (AMISOM) forces were unable to hold back Al –Shabaab’s offensive. Ethiopian and Kenyan forces are now indefinitely in Somalia as part of AMISOM.
Human tragedy followed Somali state’s meltdown: hundreds of thousands lives perished in internecine warfare; hundreds of thousands of people died of famine because relief couldn’t reach them; millions are still languishing in squalid conditions in refugee camps; piracy sprang up which required mobilization of international fleets; and the country became the staging ground for Al-Qaida affiliates. The suffering wrought by past and present proxy wars in Somalia should have been enough warning against predatory efforts to foster destabilization in the region. Can Horn of Africa afford another failed state?
2. The no war no peace policy has frozen all trade and economic relations and barred human mobility between the states. Even during the long liberation war period, the people’s mobility and economic flow, while hindered, was not totally severed. The people-to-people relationships and cultural affinity were strong. Large numbers of Eritreans and Ethiopians have fond memories of life on both sides. No war no peace is an estrangement that is destroying the fraternal relationship of the two peoples. Both states have committed acts of state-sponsored ethnic cleansing for mere tactical advantages. They rounded up and deported peaceful citizens—Ethiopians and Eritreans—simply because of their ethnic origins. Parents and children were separated, their properties plundered and their businesses confiscated without compensation. This act hacked at the roots that tied together these fraternal peoples. These relationships are strong geo-economic and political assets that should not have been traded for short-lived tactical gains.
Presently Ethiopia is giving Eritrean refugees preferential treatment and allowing many of the Eritrean youths in refugee camps opportunity to complete their education in Ethiopian institutions. This act is highly commendable but is only a band aid. Mending fraternal relationships requires ending the no war no peace policy, normalizing relations and re-instituting free mobility of the people.
3. Politically, no war no peace means diplomatic games where one side tries to undermine or isolate the other. Ethiopia and Eritrea competed to be allies of the US. Since Eritrea and Ethiopia were in conflict, the US had to choose one. The US chose the larger and more amenable Ethiopia. Ethiopia is awarded generous economic and military aid while Eritrea is slapped with sanctions. Ethiopia and Eritrea cooperated in 1996 to form the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa, and then Eritrea withdrew over differences on Somalia policy. Now Eritrea wants to come back, but Ethiopia is making sure the door remains shut.
4. No war no peace necessitates both states to maintain bloated armies at huge cost. Scarce resources, which should have been used to free their respective people from poverty, are being wasted on military expenditures. This allocation of resources is atrocious when one takes into consideration that in both countries the average person earns less than two dollars a day.
5. Both countries have amassed hundreds of thousands of troops at their border. This tense standoff could flare up at any time into another devastating war as a result of miscalculations or acts of desperation.
6. No war no peace has only losers and no winners. Eritrea is strongly affected because of its smallness, internal political vulnerability and amateurish political leadership. The people have to live under a state of constant military service, shoulder economic hardships because of bloated military budgets, sanctions and disincentive for economic investment.
Ethiopia is less affected by the no war no peace policy because of its size and because its leaders played their political cards well to inspire a generous flow of international aid. However, Eritrea’s loss has not become Ethiopia’s gain because there is no tangible goal or objective to be gained by no war no peace policy. Yet both states could gain huge economic advantage by peaceful coexistence and peaceful cooperation.
II The source of the conflict.
1. Border demarcation. The main trigger for the conflict is supposedly the ill-defined border between the two states. After a savage and senseless war, on December 2000 in Algiers, the two belligerent states were steered by the international community to agree on cessation of hostilities and to agree to binding arbitration by an international body. In 2003, When the Eritrea–Ethiopia Boundary Commission (EEBC) finally ruled Badme in favor of Eritrea, Ethiopia reneged.
The boundary between the two countries, which stretches about one thousand kilometers, is ill-defined because the colonial boundary was poorly marked and because when Eritrea was under Ethiopia, the administrative boundary was changed. However, this border issue shouldn’t have been a major cause of a violent conflict because the point of contention stretches only a few kilometers to this side or the other. It is a desolate area of no significant economic prospect to either side to warrant so much human and capital sacrifice. Badme, which is a focal point of the contention, is a town inhabited by a few hundred people. In Meles’s own words:
It is some godforsaken village. So it’s not about territory. According to the latest rendition of the Boundary Commission, Badme would be 800 metres inside Eritrea. What’s 800 metres in a country as big as Ethiopia? What’s 800 metres compared to what we willingly and happily gave up as Eritrea? It’s nothing. But it’s 800 metres which we are told is something it has never been, and something that it will never be. That’s the point. That’s the crux of the matter.[i]
Meles failed to answer his own question: if it is not about territory, what is it about?
2. Ethiopia’s landlockedness and the port of Assab
It took remarkable foresight and stamina for the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) under Meles’s leadership to accept Eritrea’s independence with the resulting loss of the ports of Massawa and Assab, rather than continue the war that has ravaged both sides for thirty years. Many doomsayers predicted that Ethiopia would choke without Assab and Massawa. Meles’s decisive leadership turned this setback into a triumph. Over the past two decades, without the use of Assab and Massawa, Ethiopia has registered the fastest economic growth in her history. Even though she is rising from a very low level, Ethiopia is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. This is the peace dividend. Had the EPRDF continued on the path of military conflict, in place of economic advances, Ethiopia would have suffered an economic debacle. The Ethiopian government has unequivocally expressed that regaining Assab is neither the objective of the 1998 - 2000 savage war nor the cause of the stalemated border demarcation.
"Well, talking about Assab the Ethiopian Government has repeatedly stated that Ethiopia has no wish whatsoever for forcefully occupying Eritrean territories. The question of forcefully occupying Assab is against international law. It is also against the principle and belief of the Ethiopian Government. So this is beside the point.”[ii]
However, the issue of Assab port has an important bearing in the minds of many Eritreans and Ethiopians. Eritreans in general feel the loss of Assab would be tantamount to dismemberment of the state of Eritrea and abrogation of their hard won independence, and they believe that this is Ethiopia’s main agenda. On the other hand, they are fully aware that these two ports could reach their full potential only if used by both Ethiopia and Eritrea together. Eritrea’s People's Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) has declared both ports “free ports” and has expressed its willingness to grant Ethiopia full access. It is EPRDF, on the other hand, that has declined to come to terms and use the facility, lest Eritrea gain some economic advantage.
For certain segments of Ethiopian intelligentsia, mainly hyper-nationalistic opposition groups and mainly centered in the diaspora, regaining sovereignty over Assab is talked about as Ethiopia’s primary goal. Pride rather than political and economic reality seem to drive their sentiments.[iii] Most of them realize that Ethiopia has no peaceful means to regain sovereignty over Assab. Direct military invasion is very costly and non-feasible and using a proxy-war strategy by instigating ethnic Afar to rise is a double edged sward. The only feasible approach is to attempt a win-win solution where both countries peacefully cooperate and utilize the ports to their capacity.
The landlockedness issue has less substance than it appears at first glance because, even when Ethiopia had control over Assab and Massawa, a good percentage of Ethiopia’s exports and imports have always gone through Djibouti because of their better transportation and port facilities. Of late, the EPRDF leadership has become highly dependent on Djibouti. This has emboldened Djibouti to raise its already high port fees and add conditions that contravene the Ethiopia-Djibouti 2002 agreement. The port facility in Djibouti is congested. Such concentration on one facility heightens Ethiopia’s venerability to terrorist sabotages.
Ethiopia has ample opportunities and good economic reasons to use ports in Mombasa, Kissimiue ,Mogadishu, Hargeisa, and Port Sudan in addition to Djibouti, Assab and Massawa. Owing to the huge land mass of Ethiopia, each of the ports listed above can serve the different regions of Ethiopia in unique economical and advantageous ways. The port fees that Ethiopia would pay these different countries would be far less than what it would spend if it were to build and maintain its own ports for all shipping purposes. Particularly when one takes into consideration the huge land mass of Ethiopia, the cost of shipping to a few centralized ports instead of the closest port could be significant. Ethiopia’s ability to use all these ports not only gives Ethiopia economic advantages but makes her an anchor state in the region.
As regards the argument that other countries will jack up port fees and tariffs they way that Djibouti did is counterintuitive. If ports from several countries are used, they have more to gain by competing for Ethiopia’s business. Ethiopia has unnecessarily put long term economic constraints on itself for no discernable reason. Ethiopia has opportunity to use the Eritrean ports which are declared free ports and Eritrea could make this available to Ethiopia at favorable terms hence incentivizing Djibouti to match its fees.
It makes no economic or political sense in the long or short term for Ethiopia to borrow three to four billion US dollars from Turkey and China to build a new port at Tajoura in Djibouti and a railway to connect it to its future potash mine in the Danakil depression over 671km, when Ethiopia, in agreement with Eritrea, could build a port facility on the Red Sea which is less than 100km away. Moreover, both countries could share the cost of building the port to develop their potentially large potash mines which are adjacent to each other. Ethiopia could use the existing port of Assab, which is much closer than build one from scratch at Tajoura in Djibouti. Such overhead and future operation costs make the mine less price competitive as well as unnecessarily burden future Ethiopian generations.
Ethiopians and Eritreans share a long common history; their cultural and psychological ethos is both positively and negatively shaped by it. This common history has a fundamental bearing on the development and resolution of this crisis. Both states are combative, ego driven and Machiavellian. Like two chess players who follow the same strategies, they are stalemated. (For a lengthy treatment of the psychological underpinning of the issue read my article.)[iv]
Eritrean People Liberation Front (EPLF) and the Tigrai People Liberation Front (TPLF) leaders, who are the core of the present ruling circles in both states, have a couple of decades of both alliance and rivalry. The internal struggle over policies, ideologies, personalities during their united front against the Derg became external after their victory. The 1998 - 2000 infamous war is partly a settling of these old scores.
In the early years of the alliance, EPLF was the main partner and TPLF the junior. After the fall of the Derg, however, power shifted in favor of the TPLF. TPLF represented a younger generation of leadership and inherited a humongous powerbase, while EPLF was diminished by the long duration of their armed struggle and the loss of its best and brightest. For all its sacrifices, EPLF gained a tiny powerbase.
In both countries the powerbase is shifting. In Ethiopia, power is shifting geographically south and demographically a generation not involved in the armed struggle is ascending to power. In Eritrea, the core of Eritrean leadership is languishing in prison or withering in exile. Isaias, the lone leader, is 67. In both countries, the transfer of power by default or design is inevitable.
Although this power shift bodes well for the resolution of this conflict, full transfer of power will take a long time. Concerned people cannot let the no war no peace policy to continue until power changes in both countries takes place. Due to the damages this policy causes, time is of the essence in resolving the situation. If this conflict is not resolved now, it could endanger the orderly, constructive and internally driven changes in both countries.
III. The parties to the conflict
There are four parties to this conflict: the Ethiopian and Eritrean people, the Ethiopian government, the Eritrean government and the US government. The Ethiopian and Eritrean people have mutual strategic interests in peaceful coexistence and cooperation but they lack a voice because they lack civil liberties. The US is motivated by regional and mainly global considerations. The Ethiopian and Eritrean leaders are motivated by tactical and short term gains and losses rather than long term or strategic interests. However, these parties’ interests could be bridges that induce the parties to agree on one peace frame work that addresses all their underling interests.
1. The Eritrean government.
So far, by design or default, president Isaias has benefitted from the no war no peace situation. He has suspended the constitution, suppressed the people’s human rights and imposed a one man rule. He deflects economic stagnation and the hardships the people are suffering as caused by outside forces determined to undermine their hard-won independence. Even though Isaias had constructed the foundation for his dictatorship long before independence was gained, the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict enabled him to instate this without much meeting resistance. He has fettered the Eritrean youth through indefinite military service. The political and economic situation has become so entangled as a result of Eritrea’s internal vulnerability and the overarching Ethiopia Eritrea conflict that the hapless people are choosing to flee the country rather than stage concerted opposition. Hence the global issue of Eritrean refugees.
That is why amateurish bellicose rhetoric spews from the Eritrean media in place of calls for sensible diplomatic efforts. If Isaias’s recent interview on Eritrean television[v] can be taken seriously, Isaias is adamant about staying the course no matter how the economic and political situation is deteriorating in Eritrea. However, as dissatisfaction is seeping into the higher echelons of the civilian and military circles, Isaias is likely to be motivated to seek a settlement which will serve as face saving.
Some Eritrean opposition leaders and members of the international community, concerned with the human rights situation in Eritrea, might oppose normalization of relations on the grounds it would prolong Isaias’s authoritarian rule. On the contrary, normalization would create favorable conditions for raising issues of governance, civil rights and economic policies. Different factions in the Eritrean community could engage in political discourse about their future without this extraneous circumstance clouding the atmosphere.
2. The Ethiopian government.
Since the death of Meles Zenawi, the leadership in Ethiopia has been constrained by lack of consensus and vision as how to proceed with the no war no peace policy. Hence they would rather let the status quo continue than take bold initiatives. The latest statement from Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the issue reiterates the same old rhetoric.[vi]
EPRDF under Meles deftly played its political cards. On the one hand, Meles sidelined his rival Isaias and on the other hand, he enabled Ethiopia to reap massive economic and military aid as a strategic US ally against militant Islam. Meles was a reluctant warrior. Around 2000 His leadership was threatened on two sides: on one side, the intransigence of PFDJ and on the other side, the opposition from inside his organization and nationalist opposition outside his organization who used Eritrea’s independence as trump card against him. He knew that protracted open military conflict would undermine his shaky power base, while peace would be interpreted as capitulation to EPLF/PFDJ. By reneging on the binding resolution of the EEBC, he chose the no peace no war option. He knew that in a situation of stasis, time is on the side of the larger state.
After the 2010 election, EPRDF control of power in Ethiopia has become unassailable. The opposition has waned. This had created a window of opportunity to take bold initiatives to peacefully resolve the conflict. Unfortunately, the untimely death of Meles created a power vacuum. None of the current leaders has the boldness and vision of Meles. There is no urgent situation that would push the resolution of this conflict into the top of the agenda of the current leadership.
This is where the international community could play a significant role in nudging the Ethiopian leaders to resolve the conflict. The US and its allies give Ethiopia close to three billion dollars in aid every year.[vii] If this is not sufficient leverage, what is? The EPRDF leaders could enhance their international stature by taking earnest steps towards peaceful resolution of this conflict.
3. The US government.
On January 02, 2009 I wrote an op-ed on American Chronicle, entitled The Bush Administration's policy towards the Horn of Africa: Is it abating or aiding the spread of terrorism. In it, I wrote
By making the war against terrorism the cornerstone of its policy towards the Horn of Africa, the Bush administration is ignoring the fundamental issues that have beset this region with conflicts and human tragedies. By superimposing the war on terrorism on local existential conflicts, the Bush administration is elevating them into global crisis. Regional instability is the cause and the spread of terrorism symptom of the crisis. If the U.S. acts as an independent arbiter cognizant of the fundamental issues of local and regional conflicts, it has a chance to positively influence the developments in the region.
The incoherent US policy in the region has contributed to further complication of the issues and destabilization of the region. The impact of US involvement in Somalia under consecutive administrations has been widely debated. Its involvement in the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict has lacked serious discussion.
The US has descended from an arbiter and guarantor of the Algiers Agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea into a party to the conflict. For most of the eight years of the Bush administration, the only standing superpower was locked in conflict with Eritrea, a small prickly state, in a strategically sensitive region.
In 2008, the George W. Bush Administration declared Eritrea to be a "state sponsor of terrorism," thereby triggering US trade, investment, and travel sanctions against Eritrea and its leaders for failing to kowtow to the US policy on Somalia. Former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Herman J. 'Hank' Cohen wrote, “The reason was the identification of Somali Islamist extremists attending a Somali political dialogue meeting in Eritrea. Indeed, this caused the US Government to become so enraged that the American Assistant Secretary of State for Africa expressed the desire to reopen the EEBC arbitration decision in order to favor the Ethiopian border claims. This request was not adopted.” [viii]
The Obama administration continued on the same course set by the Bush administration. Ambassador Susan Rice introduced a resolution in the UN Security Council to impose harsh economic sanctions on Eritrea. The Security Council passed watered down economic sanctions on Eritrea for allegedly transferring arms and fund to Al-Qaida affiliated Al-Shabaab. According to the Eritrean government, these are trumped up charges. Cohen more or less corroborated Eritrea’s position, in the same article, when he wrote. “Those of us who know Eritrea well understand that the Eritrean leadership fears Islamic militancy as much as any other country in the Horn of Africa region.”
The bogged down situation in Somalia, the aftermath of the Arab Spring and the deterioration in South Sudan have made some American diplomats—Herman J. 'Hank' Cohen; Princeton Lyman, a diplomat and former United States Ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa and David Shinn, the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia from 1996 to 1999—come out and openly advocate change in US policy towards Eritrea. They have advocated lifting of sanctions, normalization of relations between the US and Eritrea and active engagement of the US to bring Ethiopia and Eritrea to a mutually agreeable settlement. This is a welcome change, but whether their views will lead to a change in US policy is an open question.
David Shinn noted the following caveat regarding the limitations of the US’s role:
Whatever Washington does in the coming months, its relationship with Addis Ababa is more important than the one with Asmara. Although the United States might decide to try again to improve relations with Eritrea, it will not do so at the expense of its ties with Ethiopia. Ideally, the United States, Ethiopia and Eritrea will collectively decide the time has come to normalize/improve relations so that Eritrea can come in from the cold.[ix]
The US is right to be concerned with threats of Al-Qaida in the Horn of Africa. Radical Islam is a fundamental threat to peaceful of coexistence of Horn of Africa peoples. However, a cerebral reaction to threat of Al-Qaida should not cloud complex regional issues. The US has to stand above the squabble of the two regimes if it wants to play a leadership role in containing the threat of Al-Qaida, for this the US needs to take active role to lift the no peace no war situation.
4. The People of Ethiopia and Eritrea
Both peoples are strongly motivated to see this conflict end and fraternal relations flourish again. More than 60 percent of Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s population were born after the two countries were separated. They have managed to survive as two independent states for the last twenty years. Both have made economic progress, albeit from rock bottom. Still their main enemy is poverty. Their primary concern is fighting famine, malnourishment, and disease. Like all people in the rest of the world, their objective is to create better education, economic opportunities and fair governance for themselves and their offspring. They are well aware that they are more likely to achieve these goals if they live in a peaceful environment. They have no interest in being cannon fodder in any futile wars. No peace no war is an unwelcome imposition on their lives.
Particularly the Tigray and Tigrigna are close cousins living on the adjacent sides of the boarder. For generations their land has been scorched earth due to devastating wars. They would not want to live under the threat of another catastrophic war.
It is mainly those people on both sides who were born and raised during the conflict, who are now in their sixties and above, who are emotionally invested in this conflict positively or negatively. A generation-long violent conflict that proceeded Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia has left bitter resentments and reinforced cynicism and suspicion about each other’s motives. This group of people constitutes less than six percent of the population on both sides but at this stage is most vocal as well as influential.
Some Eritreans of this generation sees Ethiopia as a constant threat. They are convinced that Ethiopia’s aim is to dismember Eritrea, to push her into becoming a failed state. For some on the Ethiopian side, even after 20 years of separation, Eritrea’s independence is hard to swallow, particularly the loss of Assab, and they would want to reverse this by diplomatic or military actions. Paradoxically, it is also the members of this generation who are highly motivated to find peaceful solutions and reinvigorate their fraternal relationship to flourish.
As the democratic rights of the people are suppressed in both countries, it is hard to gauge public opinion, however, if Ethiopians and Eritreans were given a choice between a no war no peace situation or peaceful coexistence and cooperation, they would choose the latter overwhelmingly.
It is in the nature of authoritarian regimes to whip the nationalist frenzy of the people rather than engage them in the affairs of war and peace. The opposition as well as the international community has also failed to involve the people in the dialogue. We live in an age of the highest media penetration and Internet connectivity. There is an influential Ethiopian and Eritrean diaspora community spread throughout the metropolitan centers of the world. If efforts are made, it is possible to make those people who are directly affected by this conflict be the force propelling the main actors towards a lasting peace.
The no war no peace situation has lasted as long as it has because the main stakeholders, the people whose lives have been affected, are shut off from the political process. It is because the discussion about war and peace is done in the halls and back alleys of foreign lands, by politicians who are concerned about their petty agendas rather than the good of the broader masses. It can only be rectified if the broader public is involved in the discussion and resolution of this conflict. Even though free democratic platforms are restricted in both states, there still exists potent media for generating discussions and political pressure. VOA, Deutchevele and etc. broadcasting in local languages are widely followed by the public in both countries. BBC and CNN are mainstays of information for the elite. A large section of the younger generation is active in social media. Any discussion on the issues based on the broad framework of peace can lead to wider participation and motivate the power elite to address the issues earnestly. Facilitating conferences and seminars of Eritreans and Ethiopians in the metropolitan centers of the world could sift through the dilemmas and entanglements of the issues.
The following could be the broad framework for peaceful resolution:
1. Ethiopia and Eritrea should abide by the binding resolutions of the Algiers agreement and EEBC resolutions. If either side has any reservation on these agreements, they should clearly state the terms and the provisions for the resolution of the problem to the broad Ethiopian, Eritrean and international public.
2. Ethiopia and Eritrea should stop all proxy wars.
3. The US should normalize its relation with Eritrea.
4. The UN should lift its sanction on Eritrea.
5. The UN should redeploy UNMEE to Ethiopia and Eritrea border and take control of the disputed areas including Badme.
6. Ethiopia and Eritrea should demobilize and demilitarize the border.
7. EEBC should complete the border demarcation on the ground.
8. The international community should help the coast of demobilization, resettlement and compensation of affected people.
9. Ethiopia and Eritrea should sign normalization of relations.
10. Ethiopia and Eritrea should agree on terms for using Assab and Massawa as free ports without constraint for 100 years guaranteed and arbitrated by a third-party.
11. Free mobility of people and goods between the two countries should be granted.
12. Free trade, economic cooperation and integration under a regional body such as IGAD should be encouraged.
These steps could lead to peaceful coexistence, peaceful cooperation and peaceful integration of the fraternal people.
Los Angeles, 03/13/2014
[ii] Meles’s interview with VOA on June 26, 2000,