Ethiopia’s ownership of GERD doesn’t give it right to violate legal accords: Egypt FM
The Egyptian FM’s statements came a few days after Washington failed to seal signatures from the three countries on the filling and operation of the Ethiopian dam
Menna Alaa El-Din, Tuesday 3 Mar 2020
(Ahram) — Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Ethiopia’s ownership of its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) does not give it the right to violate legal accords signed willingly, days after the collapse of months-long Washington-mediated talks to resolve the GERD crisis.
In an exclusive interview with state TV, Shoukry said Ethiopia’s ownership of the GERD does not give it the right to unilaterally control the Nile, which he described as the “lifeblood of Egypt since the dawn of time.”
Addis Ababa should acknowledge that the Nile is a river that passes through several countries with rights and interests, Shoukry said.
Shoukry’s statements came a few days after Washington failed to seal signatures from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the filling and operating of the GERD, failing to reach an agreement after months of dispute over the dam project, which the three countries hoped to overcome with US mediation.
Despite the stalemate, the United States said it would remain engaged in talks with the three countries until a final agreement is signed.
Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan were expected to sign a final deal on the disputed dam by the end of February; however, Addis Ababa said it would not take part in what was due to be the final round of talks to resolve the years-long crisis.
Only Egypt initialed the US-prepared final agreement, calling on Sudan and Ethiopia to follow suit.
The latest Washington meeting’s outcome led to a tug of war between the concerned countries in the past days, with Egypt accusing Ethiopia of “deliberately” impeding the course of negotiations on the disputed Nile dam project through its boycott of the latest meetings and comments about “disappointment” with the meetings.
“One of the most dangerous aspects of the latest Ethiopian comments is an implication or a clear declaration of Ethiopia’s violation [or attempted violation] of the 2015 signed Declaration of Principles,” Shoukry said.
“We have repeatedly put ourselves in Ethiopia’s position, and were content with the positions that we see as fair and serve the partners in Ethiopia and Sudan,” he said, adding that Egypt has not received the same treatment.
Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile, which has been under construction since 2011, will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.
Cairo fears the dam will diminish its water supply from the Nile, on which it relies for the vast majority of its fresh water.
Trump tells Sisi U.S. to pursue efforts for deal over Ethiopia dam – Egypt presidency
03 March, 202
(Reuters) — CAIRO – U.S. President Donald Trump told his Egyptian counterpart Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in a phone call on Tuesday that Washington will keep up efforts for a deal between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over an Ethiopia Nile dam, the Egyptian presidency said.
The three countries had expected to sign an agreement in Washington last week on the filling and operation of the $4 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), but Ethiopia skipped the meeting and only Egypt has initialled the deal thus far.
“President Trump emphasised that the U.S. administration will keep up tireless efforts and coordination with Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia over this vital issue until the three countries sign an agreement over the Renaissance Dam,” the presidency said in a statement.
Sisi told Trump that Cairo will continue “giving this issue the utmost attention in defence of the interests of the Egyptian people, their capabilities and their future,” it added.
The three countries have been at odds over the filling and operation of the dam, under construction near Ethiopia’s border with Sudan on the Blue Nile, which flows into the Nile river.
The United States has hosted several rounds of talks in Washington with ministers from the three regional powers and the World Bank after years of trilateral negotiations failed.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that Washington was disappointed after Ethiopia skipped last week’s round.
“We have been trying to bring the parties together. They have made enormous progress. We were incredibly disappointed that Ethiopia didn’t show up for the last meeting,” Mnuchin told a hearing of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee.
“It is an important issue for the entire region. It is obviously a grave concern, there are safety concerns, there are water concerns,” he added
Egypt on Sunday accused Addis Ababa of “deliberately” not attending the last round of talks in Washington last week “to hinder the path of negotiations”.
The dam is the centrepiece in Ethiopia’s bid to become Africa’s biggest power exporter but has sparked fears in Cairo that Egypt’s already scarce supplies of Nile water, on which its population of more than 100 million people is almost entirely dependent, would be further restricted.
Even without taking the dam into account, largely desert Egypt is short of water. It imports about half its food products and recycles about 25 billion cubic meters of water annually.
Addis Ababa, which announced the project in 2011 as Egypt was beset by political upheaval, denies the dam will undermine Egypt’s access to water. REUTERS