The second round of a four-meeting series between the irrigation ministries of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam [GERD] held in Cairo - Press Photo
CAIRO - 2 December 2019: Ethiopian Irrigation and Energy Minister Selshy Bekely stated the second meeting of the ministries concerned with water affairs succeeded in addressing the technical problems related to the operation of the Renaissance Dam in coordination with Egypt and Sudan.
This came during the second round of a four-meeting series between the irrigation ministries of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam [GERD] held in Cairo onDec. 2, 3.
The meetings aim at completing the negotiations between the three countries on the mechanisms of filling and operating the Renaissance Dam, with the participation of a representative of the World Bank and a representative of the United States of America.
“Ethiopia attaches great importance to these meetings in order to reach decisions on the Renaissance Dam that respect all agreements.Since September 2018, we have held five meetings on water and this dam,” Bekely added.
The minister noted that the observers played an important role and helped provide adviceand that the three countries focused on the technical problems.He also said that the river is very important for Egypt and Sudan and that Ethiopia has the right to use the resources of the river.
The Ethiopian minister pointed out that the next meeting will be held in Khratoum, Sudan at the end of December.He explained that his country has made great progress in determining the duration of operation and construction of this dam, which will extend between 4 and 7 years.
For his part, Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas stressed,"Progress in this file does not mean to only defend our interests and the rights of our people, but also to seek new opportunities to enhance joint cooperation between our countries."
The Sudanese minister suggested two options to solve the problems related to the dam."I have two suggestions for these talks to be constructive; the first one is to continue the talks and build on what was done in Addis Ababa, and the second option is to focus on two or three issues such as long-term operation and how much water is flowing.This should facilitate solving a lot of issues to finally know when we will start filling this dam.”
Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the $4-billion dam; Cairo voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters] 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 began in 2014. One year later, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam.
However, Cairo has blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating the Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these differences, they have to ask for mediation.
Later, the United States sent an invitation to the three countries to resume the talks. Meetings were held with foreign and water ministers of Egypt and Upper stream countries, in the presence of United States Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin and a representative from the World Bank.
President Donald Trump praised the meeting with the top representatives ofthe three countries, saying on his Twitter that it “went well and discussions will continue during the day!”
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi also lauded the constructive and pivotal role played by President Trump and the US, which reflects the depth of the strategic relations between Egypt and the United States. The president said that this would contribute to reaching an agreement on the filling and operation of GERD and promoting stability and development in East Africa.