Thu, 19 Nov 2020 - 10:19 GMT
A handout satellite image shows a closeup view of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia June 26, 2020. Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies via REUTERS
CAIRO – 19 November 2020: Another round of tripartite negotiations between Foreign Ministers and Water Ministers of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) kicked off on Friday.
The meeting is being held via video conference, said Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez on his Twitter account.
Happening now... FM #Sameh_Shoukry and Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Dr. Mohamed Abdel Atty participate in the meeting held via video conference for Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan within the framework of the negotiations on the operation and filling of the #GERD. pic.twitter.com/aMzVNHLWdY— Egypt MFA Spokesperson (@MfaEgypt) November 19, 2020
A day earlier, the Egyptian Embassy in London organized a webinar with UK hydrologists and experts in African affairs, to discuss the GERD negotiations and explain Egypt's efforts to reach a fair agreement and to highlight the dangers of failing to reach consensus on the GERD filling and operation, Hafez said in another tweet.
Egypt's Embassy in London organized a webinar with UK hydrologists and experts in African affairs, to discuss the #GERD negotiations and explain Egypt's efforts to reach a fair agreement and to highlight the dangers of failing to reach consensus on the GERD filling & operation. pic.twitter.com/WmzVDsUzO5— Egypt MFA Spokesperson (@MfaEgypt) November 18, 2020
The three countries have conducted several meetings under the brokerage of the African Union (AU) over the last few months, but they reached a stalemate every round they held on the technical and legal points of contention.
Late October, Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Atti in an interview with “From Cairo” T.V. program on Sky News Arabia said that Ethiopia is responsible for the failure of reaching a comprehensive agreement with the Nile downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] regarding the operation and the filling of its dam.
The conflict between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters]. Three years later, a series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began to reach an agreement, while Ethiopia continued the dam construction.
In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam. In October 2019, Egypt blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these disputes, they have to ask for mediation.
Washington had brokered a tripartite discussion between the three countries, in presence of the President of the World Bank (WB) starting from November 6, 2019 until February 27 and 28, 2020 when Ethiopia apologized for being absent from the negotiations. During these rounds of talks, tangible outcomes were agreed on among the three parties concerning the rules and mechanism of operating the dam and the filling process of the reservoir during the drought and prolonged drought; however, the Ethiopian and Sudanese refused to sign the US/WB-drafted deal.