Thu, 25 Mar 2021 - 01:42 GMT
Thu, 25 Mar 2021 - 01:42 GMT
CAIRO – 25 March 2021: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Wednesday that his country hopes that the Ethiopian side has a political will to sign a binding and legal agreement on the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
In media remarks to “Happening in Egypt” talk show on MBC Masr, Shoukry added that Egypt has shown its will to reach an agreement but Ethiopia has backed away from signing after Washington-hosted negotiations last year.
"Egypt has sought to conclude an agreement that guarantees the common interests. It [the agreement] is an existential issue for Egypt and the government. All the state’s institutions spared no effort to deal with this file, and they are well aware of how to deal with all possible scenarios,” he said.
The Minister affirmed that Egypt trusts the mediation of the African Union, under the leadership of the Democratic Congo, saying “Time is short. If there is no effectiveness and full involvement of all parties, time will not help us.”
“The Ethiopian side's insistence on the second filling is a second breach of the Declaration of the Principles,” he continued, noting that he spoke with officials of the United Nations and the European Union, who welcomed to contribute to the negotiations.
Egyptian Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Atti asserted Wednesday Egypt's desire to resume the negotiations on the filling and operation of GERD while holding onto the fundamentals it adopts to preserve its water rights.
The minister's statements came in his speech while presiding over a seminar titled "The Water Future of Egypt: Opportunities and Challenges" jointly organized by Canada-Egypt Business Council and the Egyptian Business Council for International Cooperation.
The minister presented the updates on the issue stressing that the Ethiopian Dam and its impact on Nile water compose one of the biggest challenges faced by Egypt. That is particularly in light of the unilateral measures taken by Ethiopia in terms of reservoir filling and dam operation. Abdel Atti warned against the massive repercussions that will not be accepted by Egypt.
Egypt and Sudan have voiced their concern about the possible harms and threats of the GERD and how the dam will negatively after their water share of the Nile in case Ethiopia abstained from signing a binding and legal agreement on the dam operation and filling its reservoir.
Early March, 2021, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi made a one-day visit to Sudan, during which he and the Sudanese leaders have affirmed rejection to Ethiopia’s unilateral plans to implement the second phase of the GERD filling whether or not an agreement among the three countries is reached.
Ethiopia has frequently affirmed it would implement the second filling of the dam next July under any circumstances.
Abdel-Atti has said previously hat Sudan worried because of what happened last year when Ethiopia began filling the dam reservoir without notifying Sudan, adding that Sudan was negatively affected.
In mid-July 2020, Ethiopian authorities unilaterally carried out the first phase of the filling process with 4.9 billion cubic meters; and it is expected that the second phase of the filling would reach 13 billion cubic meters in July.
The dispute among Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters].
As Democratic Congo is chairing the AU for the year 2021, it is attempting to revive stalling negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. However, few hours before Sisi’s official visit to Sudan, Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele said on Thursday that his country is looking forward to a “win-win solution” for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam through trilateral negotiation.
Bekele’s remarks came after he hosted a delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo to discuss the ongoing negotiations with Egypt and Sudan to reach a deal on GERD.
In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam.
In October 2019, Egypt blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these disputes, they have to ask for mediation.
Washington had brokered tripartite negotiations among the three countries, in the presence of the President of the World Bank (WB) starting from November 6, 2019 until February 27 and 28, 2020.
During these rounds of talks, tangible outcomes were agreed on among the three parties concerning the rules and mechanism of operating the dam and the filling process of the reservoir during drought and prolonged drought; however, an agreement was not sealed.
Constructions in the Grand Renaissance Dam started on April 2, 2011 at a cost of $4.8 billion. The dam is located on the Blue Nile with a capacity of 74 billion cubic meters and is expected to generate up to 6,000 megawatts of power.