Egypt continues diplomatic escalation in GERD dispute

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Fri, 27 Sep 2019 - 01:46 GMT

Dreischluchtendamm Hauptwall 2006- CC via Wikimedia

Dreischluchtendamm Hauptwall 2006- CC via Wikimedia

CAIRO - 27 September 2019: In his meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry voiced Egypt’s unease for the stumbling the prolonged negotiation between Cairo and Ethiopia over the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.

Shoukry stressed the importance of reaching a ‘fair solution that preserves the interests of all parties and minimizes the damage, the statement said, noting that the meeting held on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74).

In a meeting with a number of U.S. influential figures, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said Egypt has started diplomatic escalation to expand the domain of discussions on the dam so it becomes no longer confined to a bilateral or trilateral level.

President Sisi said Egypt has always adopted policies that favor dialogue, emphasizing that the dam will not be operated by the “imposition of a status quo.” “We have no other water source but the Nile River,” the president stressed.

Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the controversial and under-construction Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as Cairo voiced its concern over its share after Ethiopia started building the dam on the Blue Nile in May 2011. A series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan has begun in 2014. One year later, the three countries reached an agreement, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be affected by the construction of the dam. However, the two countries recently blamed each other for hindering a final agreement concerning the technical problem.

Foreign Deputy Minister for African Affairs Hamdi Loza held a meeting with African ambassadors to Egypt on Sept. 23 and 25 to update them on the latest developments the situation, saying “the negotiation on the dam among the water ministers of the three countries (Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia) stumbled due to the Ethiopian rejection to the Egyptian proposal concerning the dam reservoir filling.

Five days ago, Sameh Shoukry told Al Monitor in New York that the Ethiopian development should come at the expense of the lives of Egyptians.

He added that the disagreement is a “scientific issue”, saying “science should not be manipulated politically.” The problematic point between Egypt and Ethiopia is related to the period of filling the dam’s reservoir with water; Egypt has recently submitted the Ethiopian and Sudanese sides a proposal to fill the dam’s reservoir over seven years. The dam’s capacity is 73 billion cubic meters of water and this means that Egypt will lose 10 billion cubic meters annually of its 55.5 water share over the proposed period. However, Ethiopia rejected the offer.

“Due to this stumbling, it was decided to hold an urgent meeting for the independent scientific group in Khartoum as of the end of September and until early October, to discuss the Egyptian proposal on filling and operating processes of GERD, in addition to Ethiopian and Sudanese proposals,” the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said in a statement on September 17.

Additional reporting Samar Samir and Noha El Tawil

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