Further escalation in Nile dam dispute must be avoided: EU foreign policy chief

Ahram Online , Friday 29 May 2020

A general view of the the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia (AFP)
A general view of the the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), near Guba in Ethiopia (AFP)

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has that it is essential to avoid further escalation and to find an “urgent and mutually beneficial solution” to the dispute around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Borrell spokes with the Commissioner of the African Union Peace and Security Commission Smail Chergui on Thursday by phone and the pair exchanged views on the latest developments, according to a press release by European External Action Service.

The high representative of the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy said that the bloc welcomes the decision to resume technical talks between the irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

He stressed that it is now important to “avoid further escalation and find an urgent and mutually beneficial solution.”

He stressed EU’s willingness to support the parties in this endeavour and to share its expertise with them.

“Resolving the Nile dispute is a matter of stability for the whole region,” read the statement.

“Over the past weeks, High Representative/Vice-President Borrell has been engaging with all parties and strongly encouraged them to avoid increased polarisation.”

Talks resuscitated

The Egyptian foreign ministry has welcomed the recent revival of talks with Sudan and Ethiopia over the mega-dam, after Khartoum and Addis Ababa announced their willingness to resume technical discussions.

The ministry stressed that those negotiations have to be "serious and constructive" to contribute to a fair, balanced and comprehensive agreement that would preserve Egypt’s water rights and the interests of the three countries.

Trilateral negotiations on the filling and operation of the under-construction dam stalled in February after Ethiopia declined to sign a deal drafted by American mediators.

Egypt and Sudan then rejected an Ethiopian agreement released on 10 April proposing a “partial agreement” that would only cover the first stage of the filling.

On 1 May, Egypt sent a memo to the UN Security Council blaming Ethiopia for trying to establish a deal without taking the interests of downstream countries Egypt and Sudan into consideration.

Addis Ababa told the Security Council in a letter sent in response to the Egyptian memo that it “does not have a legal obligation to seek the approval of Egypt to fill the dam.”

Egypt and Ethiopia disagree over technical details regarding the operation and filling of the dam, which is under construction near Ethiopia's border with Sudan. Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion project on the Blue Nile will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.


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