Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said on Wednesday that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will not cause “thirst” for Egypt and Sudan.
In an interview with Saudi News Channel Al-Arabiya, Andargachew said that downstream countries Egypt and Sudan should not be worried about the flow of Nile water, and condemned what he described as “exaggerations and incorrect demands” from the Egyptian side.
The Ethiopian FM stressed that negotiating in good faith is the only solution to the GERD dispute.
Andargachew’s comments came one day after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said that his country is set to start filling the dam’s reservoir to take advantage of the current heavy rain season, which is in July, regardless of whether an agreement is reached with Egypt and Sudan.
Both Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly called on Ethiopia not to take any unilateral action concerning the filling of the dam.
Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia are currently engaged in a new round of talks under the auspices of the African Union.
According to the Egyptian irrigation ministry, Egypt and Ethiopia have so far not reached an agreement regarding fundamental technical and legal issues.
Egypt, which relies on the Nile for 95 percent of its freshwater, fears the dam will significantly reduce the river’s flow, especially during the filling stages through periods of drought and dry years. Ethiopia, on the other hand, says the project is key to its development efforts.
The previous round of negotiations between the three countries, held from 9 to 17 June, failed to produce an accord due to Ethiopia's refusal to enter into a legally binding agreement and its announcement that it will begin filling the dam in July with or without the approval of the two downstream countries.
In response, Egypt appealed to the UN Security Council to intervene to resolve the stalemate to preserve international peace and stability.
The Security Council urged the three countries to avoid taking any unilateral actions and to conduct talks on the basis of mutual understanding.