EU calls for resumption of Ethiopia dam talks

Mohamed Soliman , Mohamed Soliman , Saturday 24 Oct 2020

"An agreement on the filling of GERD is within the reach of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Now is the time for action and not for increasing tensions," says EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell

File Photo: Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam (AFP)

The European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called for resuming negotiations mediated by the African Union (AU) on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to reach a deal on the filling of the disputed dam.

"An agreement on the filling of the GERD is within the reach of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt,” said Borell in a statement on Saturday. “Now is the time for action and not for increasing tension," he added.

He stressed that the efforts of South Africa, current chair of the African Union, to bring the parties to a negotiated solution, have the full support of the European Union (EU).

He also said the European body "looks forward to the imminent resumption and successful conclusion of the talks."

The recent round of talks mediated by the AU, and that were observed by the US, the EU, the AU, and the AU Commission, had come to a close in late August without reaching a consensus on the legal and technical points of contention.

"Over 250 million citizens of the Blue Nile Basin stand to benefit from a predictable agreement based on a negotiated arrangement for the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and are expecting investments in water security, irrigation, agricultural production and electricity generation," the EU foreign policy chief added.

Cairo and Khartoum have been in talks with Addis Ababa for years now to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operating of the massive hydropower dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile.

The AU had stepped in the near decade-long dispute after the tripartite negotiations reached deadlock last year as did talks sponsored by the US and the World Bank in February.

The AU-talks, however, were halted in August after Addis Ababa had proposed a package of non-binding guidelines for the filling and operating of the mega-dam, as opposed to what Cairo and Khartoum actually seek.

Cairo fears the project will significantly cut its crucial water supply from the River Nile, while Sudan has concerns on how the reservoir will be managed.

Ethiopia says the massive project, which it hopes will make it Africa’s largest power exporter, is key to its development efforts.

Borrell's statement comes shortly after US President Donald Trump gave a statement on the situation of negotiations between the three countries, concerning the near-complete mega-dam, lashing out on Ethiopia for its withdrawal from the final round of the US-brokered negotiations in February.

Trump remarked late on Friday that "It's a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not going to be able to live that way," adding that "Egypt could end up blowing up the dam."

"I said it and I say it loud and clear; they could blow up that dam," he stressed.

Ethiopia on other hand, said on Saturday that it "will not cave-in to aggressions of any kind," according to a statement made by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

"These threats and affronts to Ethiopian sovereignty are misguided, unproductive, and are clear violations of international law," the statement added.



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