Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, Guba, Ethiopia- CC via Flickr/Pierre Markuse
CAIRO – 29 February 2020: The Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Irrigation and Energy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia said Saturday it will fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam despite the American warning of taking action without an agreement with the downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.
“Ethiopia as the owner of the GERD will commence first filling of the GERD in parallel with the construction of the Dam in accordance with the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization and the causing of no significant harm as provided for under the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles (DoP),” read a statement published by the official Facebook page of the Ethiopian ministry of foreign affairs.
Ethiopia does not accept the characterization that the negotiation on the Guidelines and Rules on the First Filling and Annual Operation of the GERD (Guidelines and Rules) is completed. The “text” reportedly initialed by the Arab Republic of Egypt in Washington D.C. is not the outcome of the negotiation or the technical and legal discussion of the three countries. Ethiopia made it clear that the Guidelines and Rules must be prepared by the three countries. The Countries are yet to address outstanding issues pertaining to the finalization of the Guidelines and Rules.
Ethiopia, with the full knowledge and agreement of Egypt and Sudan has addressed all dam safety related issues during the International Panel of Experts process. Egypt and the Sudan had expressed their appreciation under Principle 8 of the DOP and Ethiopia will continue to implement it in good faith.
Ethiopia is committed to continue its engagement with the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Republic of the Sudan to address the outstanding issues and finalize the Guidelines and Rules on the first filling and annual operation of the GERD.
US Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin praised earlier Egypt’s move of initialing the US-drafted deal of the rules for filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile, cautioning Ethiopia against testing and filling the dam without reaching an agreement.
“We appreciate the readiness of the government of Egypt to sign the agreement and its initialing of the agreement to evidence its commitment,” said Mnuchin in a statement, adding “consistent with the principles set out in the DOP, and in particular the principles of not causing significant harm to downstream countries, final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement.
On Friday evening, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it has unilaterally initialed the deal, saying “In light of the fact that this agreement preserves Egypt’s water interests and ensures that it is not subjected to significant harm, Egypt has initialed this agreement as an affirmation of its serious will to achieve its objects and purposes.”
Ahead of the consultations, Ethiopian ambassador to the U.S. Fitsum Arega tweeted that his country will not attend the meetings, saying that Ethiopia will not sign any agreement that would make it give up its Nile water rights.