Egypt calls on Arab League to urge Ethiopia end unilateral actions in GERD dispute: FM Shoukry

Ahram Online , Wednesday 6 Sep 2023

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry called Wednesday on the Arab League (AL) to urge Ethiopia end its unilateral actions in the dispute over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with Egypt and Sudan.

The LAS Session
The Ministerial meeting of the League of Arab States in Cairo earlier Wednesday. Photo : League of Arab States


In a speech to the 160th session of the Council of Arab Foreign Ministers of the AL in Cairo, FM Shoukry praised the AL’s unwavering support for the two downstream countries in safeguarding their water interests in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute.

"We look forward to the Arab League's continued support in urging Ethiopia to abandon its unilateral actions and exhibit the necessary political will to promptly reach a binding legal agreement that serves everyone's interests," added Shoukry.

He praised AL's adoption of critical resolutions to support Egypt and Sudan in the dispute, including making the GERD issue a permanent agenda topic in league meetings.

“This reflects the Arab solidarity, which ultimately serves the interests of our nations,” he said.

“It also addresses current risks and grave threats that cannot be tolerated any longer," he added.

"We have seen that Ethiopia’s unilateral approach to filling and operating the Renaissance Dam has not changed," said Shoukry, referring to Addis Ababa’s refusal to sign a legally binding agreement to resolve the dispute during recent trilateral talks hosted in Cairo despite its promise back in July to do so within four months.

Egypt remains steadfast in seeking a peaceful resolution to the GERD dispute that safeguards its historic rights in the Nile water and its national security, FM Shoukry told the ministerial council.

Ethiopia is carrying out the fourth filling of the dam this summer in the absence of any binding agreement between the three countries.

Sudan and Syria

In his address, FM Shoukry reviewed accomplishments that were made during Egypt’s presidency of the current 159th session of the ministerial council.

He praised the efficient and prompt response of the AL to deal with the repercussions of the Sudanese crisis immediately after it erupted in April.

The Egyptian foreign minister also praised the ongoing work of the AL Sudan crisis contact group, which includes Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the AL secretary-general, to end the conflict in that country.

He also praised the return of Syria to the league during the 159th session through a collective Arab decision reached on 7 May.

"In making the decision to welcome Syria back to the Al, we emphasized the importance of preserving Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity; achieving regional stability, and defeating terrorism; taking practical and effective steps towards a gradual resolution through the principle of step-by-step progress, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254," Shoukry stressed.

Commitment on Palestine

The 160th session, presided over by Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita, addressed other critical regional issues, including Israeli aggression against Palestinians, and Turkish and Iranian involvement in Arab affairs.

The AL Ministerial Council remained committed to monitoring and responding to developments in the occupied Palestinian territories as a central Arab cause, stated Shoukry.

“The council held several meetings under Egypt’s presidency and reaffirmed the consistent Arab stance on the Palestinian issue," he said.

This Arab stance "aligns with international legitimacy resolutions mandating an end to the Israeli occupation; Israel's withdrawal to the 4 June 1967 borders, and the establishment of an independent and viable Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem,” Shoukry noted.

The Arab League convened emergency meetings at the ambassadorial level and issued statements strongly condemning the violations at Al-Aqsa Mosque on 5 April and the events in Jenin on 4 July, he noted.

The AL warned against resorting to violence and shedding Palestinian blood, emphasizing that such actions would only escalate violence and tension in the entire region and reiterating that any interference with the historical and legal status quo in the holy sites in Jerusalem was unequivocally rejected, added Shoukry.

It also reaffirmed its commitment to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative as the foundation for a just and sustainable solution, which is the cornerstone for peace and coexistence in the Middle East, he concluded.

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