An archival for the establishment process of Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam (Photo: Al Ahram)
In a statement before parliament on Wednesday, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry accused Ethiopia of building its Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) in violation of international agreements.
“Ethiopia has an obligation in line with 1997’s international agreement on river waters not to build dams that could negatively impact the water rights of other Nile countries – mainly Egypt and Sudan,” said Shoukry.
Shoukry said that all negotiations that have been held with Ethiopia since 2015 have gone nowhere.
“Ethiopia has even shown hardline positions and was highly unresponsive to any proposals during the latest round of negotiations between 30 September and 5 October,” said Shoukry, adding that “Ethiopia no longer has any serious wish to discuss the rules for filling the dam and this goes in violation of the declaration of principles reached in March 2015.”
“Ethiopia’s new hardline positions, which come after a long period of negotiations, will lead to destabilising consequences in the region, and so we call upon the international community to exercise its responsibilities in this respect,” said Shoukry, adding that “Egypt proposes that the World Bank act a mediator that can intervene in a scientific way to solve the differences.”
Shoukry said that “in any case, I want to assure all that Egypt will never accept Ethiopia imposing the status quo and that it has the power and determination to protect its rights to the Nile water and to assure respect for international law on this issue, because this is a matter of life and death for Egypt.”
Shoukry also said that Ethiopia has an abundance of water.
“[Ethiopia] has 630 billion cubic metres of rain water, not to mention that it has water from 10 river basins,” said Shoukry, “but Egypt is suffering from a scarcity of water, and it will never accept the status quo.”
Shoukry urged Sudan to show more cooperation with Egypt on the issue of the GERD.
“I say this not only because we have brotherly relations with Sudan, but because Sudan will also be negatively affected by the GERD,” said Shoukry.
Shoukry said Ethiopia’s decision to fill and operate GERD without a prior agreement is totally rejected by Egypt.
“This is a flagrant violation of the declaration of principles and I want to say that these Ethiopian moves will have serious destabilising effects on the region,” said Shoukry.
Shoukry urged Ethiopia to accept “a fourth mediator” that can bring the issue to an acceptable solution.
Shoukry said that upon directives from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Egypt will intensify communications with international partners to help resolve the differences in accordance with international law.