Egypt decries unilateral filling of GERD in letter to UNSC

Ahram Online , Saturday 12 Jun 2021

The Egyptian step was taken out of the UNSC's responsibility to maintaining international peace and security


Egypt sent a letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) expressing its objection to Addis Ababa' plan to move ahead unilaterally with the second filling of the the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in July in the absence of a legally binding agreement with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan.

A statement by the Egyptian foreign ministry on Saturday said the letter explained the latest developments concerning the long-running dispute over the controversial dam.

"The letter includes recordings of Egypt's refusal of the Ethiopian announcement that it intends to forge ahead with filling the Renaissance Dam during the current flood season," read the statement.

The letter expressed "Cairo's utter rejection of the Ethiopian approach, which is based on forcing a fait accompli on the downstream countries through unilateral measures tantamount to explicit violation of international law," the ministry added.

The statement noted that the Egyptian step was taken out of the UNSC's responsibility to maintaining international peace and security.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said the letter reveals to the international community Ethiopia’s "intransigent" positions that scuttled the efforts exerted over the past months to reach a fair, balanced and legally binding agreement on the dam under the auspices of the African Union.

"A detailed file on the GERD issue and Egypt's vision towards it was lodged with the UNSC to be a reference for the international community... [and] to document the constructive and responsible stances Egypt has adopted over a decade of negotiations to reach an agreement that preserves the interests of the three nations," Hafez added.

Tripartite negotiations sponsored by the African Union (AU) stalled in April after Addis Ababa had refused a request by Cairo and Sudan to widen the mediation of the talks to include the US, the EU, and the UN.

Egypt and Sudan believe the current path of AU negotiations will not lead to a breakthrough, calling for the formation of quartet mediation.

Tensions mounted recently over Addis Ababa's plan to go ahead with the second filling whether or not a deal is reached with Cairo and Khartoum.

Ethiopia plans to hold 13.5 billion cubic metres of water during the second filling of the GERD’s reservoir in July, despite the objections of Egypt and Sudan to the move in the absence of a legally binding agreement.

The three countries have resorted to international diplomacy in the past weeks, briefing regional and international counterparts on their stances and developments in the latest deadlock in negotiations.

On Wednesday, following a meeting in Khartoum between the Egyptian and Sudanese foreign and irrigation ministers, the two downstream countries released a joint statement urging concerted international efforts to help settle the GERD dispute with Ethiopia.

Egypt and Sudan called on the international community to recognise the dangers associated with the ongoing Ethiopian policy, which is based on forcing a fait accompli on the downstream countries.

Arab foreign ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting in the Qatari capital of Doha on Tuesday upon a request from Egypt and Sudan to discuss the latest developments in the Nile row.

In June, the UNSC held an open session over the GERD dispute upon Egypt's request due to what it described as Ethiopia's "intransigence" in negotiations.

During the session, the council urged the three countries to reach a consensus and warned against unilateral actions.

The three countries agreed to continue negotiations under the aegis of the AU.

Last year, Ethiopia held 4.9 billion cubic metres of water in the reservoir without coordinating with Egypt and Sudan. 

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