Egypt announces unsuccessful conclusion of GERD negotiations

Ahram Online , Tuesday 19 Dec 2023

Egypt announced Tuesday that the recently revived negotiation track over the long-standing dispute caused by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has reached an end as the fourth and final trilateral round of talks with Ethiopia and Sudan, which concluded earlier today, failed to yield any results.

Ethiopia s  GERD: AFP
Ethiopia s GERD: AFP
 

In a statement, the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources said the unsuccessful round can be blamed on Ethiopia's persistent rejections of any of the proposed technical or legal solutions that would safeguard the interests of all three countries, including Addis Ababa itself.

The ministry also highlighted Ethiopia's consistent backtracking on the previously agreed-upon understandings reached among the nations, according to the statement.

“Ethiopia elects to continue exploiting the negotiation as a cover to solidify a fait accompli on the ground while negotiating solely to obtain approval from the downstream countries for unregulated and absolute Ethiopian control of the Blue Nile, disregarding Ethiopia's obligations under international law,” read the statement.

The ministry asserted that Egypt “will closely monitor the filling and operation of the GERD and reserves its right, under international charters and accords, to defend its water and national security in the event of harm.”

The four-round talks – the first since negotiations sponsored by the African Union collapsed in April 2021 – were held as part of an agreement reached in mid-July to agree on the rules of filling and operating the GERD within four months.

Egypt said the first two rounds of talks, held in Addis Ababa in September and Cairo in August, showed no change in the Ethiopian stance.

In reply to the Egyptian statement, Ethiopia expressed its disapproval of what it called a “misrepresentation” of its positions by Egypt.

Ethiopia said it sought, during the talks rounds, “to address the major issues of difference and reach an amicable agreement,” read a statement issued by the Ethiopian foreign ministry.

It also expressed its willingness to resume the negotiation to reach “an amicable and negotiated” settlement that addresses the interests of the three countries.

Both Arab countries have been seeking a binding deal on the filling and operation of the megaproject but to no avail. However, Ethiopia seeks to sign non-binding guidelines on the dam's filling and operation rules that can be modified at any time at its discretion.

In the absence of an agreement with downstream countries Egypt and Sudan, Ethiopia unilaterally completed the fourth phase of filling the GERD reservoir, with the last one in September.

Egypt, which relies mainly on the Nile for its water needs, fears that the dam will harm the country’s already scarce water supply.

Egypt’s annual share of water is 560 cubic metres per person, cabinet figures show, placing the country well below the international threshold for water scarcity.

According to the UN, a population faces water scarcity when annual water supplies drop below 1,000 cubic metres per person.

Egypt needs up to 114 billion cubic metres while it receives 60 on average, coming mostly from the Nile and underground water.

 

 
Search Keywords:
Short link: