Wed, 17 May 2023 - 11:29 GMT
Wed, 17 May 2023 - 11:29 GMT
CAIRO – 18 May 2023: Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry said Ethiopia has been “buying time” on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute with Egypt and Sudan by showing no political will to reach a deal on the issue.
In an interview with TV host Sherif Amer on MBC Masr, Shoukry said all Sudan’s neighboring countries are harmed by the ongoing Sudanese conflict in response to a question on whether Ethiopia is benefiting from the crisis amid the continued GERD dispute between the three countries.
“Ethiopia does not need this conflict to buy time. Ethiopia has been buying time by showing no political leadership to reach a deal even when the situation was stable in Sudan,” Shoukry said.
However, Shoukry said he thinks the GERD dispute and the Sudan crisis should be treated as two separate issues.
The top Egyptian diplomat said Egypt refrains from the notion of applying pressure on Ethiopia. Instead, Egypt works to encourage the other party to achieve all parties’ interests, he added.
“We hope that the brothers in Ethiopia understand the Egyptian position and needs and the necessity to preserve the Egyptian water security as we maintain water security and security in general,” Shoukry said.
“We are keen to achieve stability because we are all affected without stability,” Shoukry stressed.
GERD on Arab League agenda
The upcoming Arab League summit will see leaders reaffirming the principles of preserving the Egyptian and Sudanese water security as inseparable from the Arab water security, Shoukry said as he spoke before the Arab foreign ministers meeting in Saudi Arabia that took place today ahead of the Arab League’s annual summit.
“This is a strong expression that should be taken into consideration,” Shoukry said, adding that it indicates the importance that Arab countries attach to this issue.
He added that this Arab expression with regard to GERD may develop in the future based on requirements and circumstances.
African stance on GERD
Shoukry said some of the African countries share the same position as Egypt regarding GERD especially as they are downstream countries that managed to find peaceful solutions with its neighbors on similar water issues.
He added that these downstream countries are watching the GERD issue carefully as the principles of unilateralism and the refrainment from discussions and consensus can have a negative impact on them.
Egypt and Sudan have been calling for Ethiopia to sign a legally-binding agreement on GERD in order to ensure the preservation of their water interests and people’s rights.
The two downstream countries have urged Ethiopia to refrain from unilateral measures with regard to the mega dam, warning of the consequences of filling and operating the dam unilaterally before a binding deal is signed.
However, Ethiopia has rejected the signing of such a deal and has continued its dam filling and operation plans over the past years. Ethiopia is also preparing to implement the fourth filling of the dam’s 74-billion-cubic-metre reservoir during the coming period despite the two countries’ objection.
Resorting to Security Council
Egypt is not planning to take the GERD issue again to the UN Security Council during this stage ahead of the fourth dam filling, Shoukry said.
However, this does not mean that Egypt will never resort to the Security Council with regard to the dam issue if required, Egypt’s top diplomat added.
Egypt has taken the GERD issue to the Security Council over the past three years.
In September 2021, the Security Council issued a presidential statement calling for all of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to resume their AU-sponsored negotiations to reach a mutually acceptable agreement on filling and operating the dam within a reasonable time frame.