Ethiopia’s GERD statement seeks to ‘drive wedge’ between Arab, African states: Egypt



Thu, 25 May 2023 - 12:17 GMT


Thu, 25 May 2023 - 12:17 GMT

A file photo for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – Twitter/Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

A file photo for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – Twitter/Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

CAIRO – 25 May 2023: A recent statement by the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs with regard to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) seeks to “drive a wedge” between Arab and African countries, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid has said.

Abu Zeid’s remarks late on Wednesday came a few days after the Ethiopian ministry issued a statement to express disappointment over a resolution adopted by the Arab League’s summit last week on the dam.

In its statement, the Ethiopian ministry criticized Egypt’s attempts to “pressure Ethiopia through the Arab League forum” and claimed that a number of Arab countries in the league “cautioned against Egypt’s attempts to escalate the matter.”

In their resolution on Friday, Arab leaders urged good-faith negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in order to reach balanced, fair and legally-binding agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

‘Playing with fire’

“Claims that some African countries, who are members of the African Union (AU), did not agree with the resolution is not true because it was adopted unanimously,” the Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman stressed in TV remarks.

Abu Zeid said Ethiopia has positioned itself to speak on behalf of Arab countries, which is a “serious issue”.

“This is an act of playing with fire,” Abu Zeid warned, warning that “playing on the strings of the Arab-African relations and driving wedges in Arab-African and Arab-Arab relations is a matter of extreme danger”.

The Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman affirmed the need to exercise caution in this regard as “the issues vanish and end, while good neighborliness relations stay”.

“Ethiopia will always remain a neighboring country and the Ethiopian people are brotherly people,” Abu Zeid said, affirming the need to refrain from “policies and positions that inflame feelings and mislead public opinion in Ethiopia and African and other countries”.

Speaking on behalf of AU

In its statement, the Ethiopian ministry also condemned the Arab League’s resolution as an “affront to the African Union and its member states”.

The Ethiopian ministry added the AU has been “striving to negotiate an amicable resolution to the GERD issue” and claimed that the league’s resolution contradicts the shared history and values of the peoples of Africa and the Arab world.

Abu Zeid said Ethiopia is assuming that it speaks on behalf of the African Union countries.

“It is very unfortunate that a statement is issued by a responsible country in this way,” the spokesman said, affirming that the Ethioipian statement is “full of allegations and misleading [remarks] and seeks to drive a wedge between Arab and African countries”.

Abu Zeid also denied the Ethiopian remarks regarding an alleged agreement between the experts of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the details of the dam filling, including volume and duration.

“Such agreement never happened,” the spokesman said, adding that there has been no agreement between the three countries on anything related to the dam other than the 2015 Declaration of Principles (DoP) agreement.

‘Colonial agreements’

In its statement, Ethiopia urged Egypt to abandon its “unlawful claim to the monopoly of the Nile River, citing defunct colonial agreements and a colonial-mentality-based position”.

Abu Zeid stressed that the Ethiopian claims that the agreements on the Nile River are colonial are “misleading”.

“Ethiopia was an independent country under the Ethiopian Emperor and were not under any foreign colonization” when the agreements were signed, Abu Zeid stressed.

He affirmed that Ethiopia was independent when signing the 1929, 1993 and 2015 agreements in this regard.

“Speaking about colonial agreements is an attempt to win the sympathy of a number of African countries that had suffered from colonialism and the colonial era,” Abu Zeid stated.

GERD dispute

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.



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