Egypt ‘shocked and distressed’ by Ethiopian PM’s comments on GERD

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Oct 2019

The US has offered to host a tripartite meeting on GERD in Washington, the Egyptian foreign ministry said

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt is “shocked by” the statements attributed to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed before the Ethiopian parliament, which included “negative signals and unacceptable hints” on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue, according to a statement by the foreign ministry released on Tuesday evening.

The ministry also said it has accepted an invitation from the US administration to host a meeting of the foreign ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia in Washington to discuss the GERD, without specifying dates.

The ministry is following up on Ahmed’s comments with “great concern and deep distress,” it said.

Ahmed said on Tuesday that his country is ready to mobilise "millions" if it comes to war over the construction of the mega-dam Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile, though he stressed that settling the dispute through negotiations is in everyone's best interest.

Tensions have been building up between Egypt and Ethiopia in recent weeks after talks on the technical details governing the operation of the dam failed to make progress.

"Egypt was surprised by the inappropriate referral to a military option, which is strongly rejected by Egypt and is contrary to the principles and spirit of the African Union's basic law," the statement said.

"Egypt did not address the GERD at any time, except by relying on the negotiations framework in accordance with the principles of international law and legitimacy and according to the principles of justice and equity," it said.

Egypt has “always called for negotiations” to settle disputes related to the GERD, “with full transparency and in good faith for many years," it added.

The comments come days after Ahmed received the Nobel Peace Prize, an event that should have prompted the Ethiopian side to show flexibility and goodwill towards reaching a legal binding and comprehensive agreement, according to the Egyptian statement.

Egypt fears that the Ethiopian dam will diminish its water supply, which is dependent on the Nile, and has been pushing for an agreement it will fill the reservoir slowly, to avoid this.

But Ethiopia maintains that the hydroelectric dam, which is nearly 70 percent complete, will not restrict the river’s flow.

Earlier this month, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s office said the two leaders had agreed in a phone call to overcome any obstacles facing negotiations on the operation of the dam. The call came after El-Sisi had congratulated Ahmed on Facebook on winning the Nobel.

The pair are expected to meet on Thursday on the sidelines of an African-Russian summit in the Russian city of Sochi. 

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