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Egypt 'categorically rejects' Ethiopia's statement on Arab League resolution over GERD

The Egyptian foreign ministry said the Ethiopian statement is "inappropriate, undiplomatic, and constitutes an unacceptable affront to the Arab League and its member states"

Ahram Online , Saturday 7 Mar 2020
Egyptian Foreign Ministry
File photo of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry (photo: Ahram)
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Egypt's foreign ministry said it "categorically rejects" a statement issued Friday by its Ethiopian counterpart on the resolution adopted by the Council of the Arab League regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Arab League resolution, which was proposed by Egypt to support both Egypt and Sudan in the dispute over GERD, was adopted without amendments during an Arab League ministerial meeting Wednesday, with Sudan officially registering its reservations, according to Egypt’s MENA news agency.

Ethiopia said Friday that it “noted with dismay” the resolution by the Arab League, and rejected it in its entirety.

In response, the Egyptian foreign ministry said the Ethiopian statement is "inappropriate, undiplomatic, and constitutes an unacceptable affront to the Arab League and its member states."

"The fact that the Arab League adopted a resolution calling on Ethiopia to respect the applicable rules of international law and not to undertake unilateral measures that could harm Egyptian riparian rights and interests is a testament to the extent to which Ethiopia unilaterally considers its interests not only as superseding but also superior to the collective interests of the sovereign states of the Arab League which it seeks to suppress," the Egyptian foreign ministry statement said.

The statement added that, “This resolution adopted by the Arab League reflects dismay and discontent at Ethiopia’s track record throughout the endless rounds of negotiations on the GERD, particularly since the conclusion of the 2015 Agreement on the Declaration of Principles (DoP)."

"Ethiopia’s posture and position during these negotiations, which has been criticised by the Arab League, evinces its intent to exercise hydro-hegemony and to anoint itself as the unchallenged and sole beneficiary over the Nile. This is especially apparent in its insistence on filling the GERD unilaterally in July 2020 without reaching an agreement with downstream states, and while holding negotiations on the GERD hostage to domestic political considerations. This constitutes a material breach of the DoP and demonstrates, beyond any doubt, Ethiopia’s bad faith and its lack of political will to reach a fair and balanced agreement on the GERD," the statement said.

Ethiopia hopes the massive $4.8 billion megaproject on the Blue Nile, which has been under construction since 2011, will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.

Cairo fears the dam will diminish its water supply from the Nile, on which it relies for the vast majority of its freshwater.

"Nowhere is this true nature of Ethiopia’s position more apparent than in the fact that it failed to accept an agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD that was prepared by neutral and impartial mediators, namely the United States in coordination with the World Bank. In a show of political support, the Arab League welcomed and endorsed this agreement and invited Ethiopia to revisit its position and reconsider signing this agreement," the ministry said.

Tensions between Cairo and Addis Ababa over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam mounted over the past week after the latter skipped US-sponsored talks in Washington that aimed to reach a final deal between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt over the giant hydropower project.

Washington, which has been brokering talks since last year, failed to secure signatures from the three countries last week, stressing that the filling of the 6,000-megawatt dam "should not take place without an agreement."

Only Egypt initialed the agreement during the latest meetings, saying the agreement is "fair and balanced" and "achieves the interest of the three countries."

Egypt's foreign ministry stated that "given its policies during the GERD negotiations, Ethiopia is in no position to lecture the Arab League or its member states on the common values, cultural ties, and bonds of kinship between the Arab and African peoples, which are not the purview of Ethiopia to define."

Ethiopia’s policy on GERD is a further assertion of the unilateral nature of its regional conduct that has resulted in continuing harm and suffering for "multitudes of our African brethren," the ministry noted.

"We, therefore, urge the international community to join the Arab League in taking cognizance of Ethiopia’s continuing defiance and unilateralism, which threatens to undermine regional stability and security. We also call on Ethiopia to affirm its commitment not to commence the filling of the GERD without an agreement, and to accept the agreement prepared by the neutral mediators," the ministry added.

A balanced, win-win solution, the ministry said, is at hand and the opportunity to chart a new course and redraw the history of the Blue Nile is within grasp, and should be seized for the benefit of over 240 million Egyptians, Ethiopians and Sudanese.

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