Egypt's FM Sameh Shoukri (Al-Ahram)
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu over the phone on Wednesday that Egypt sent a letter to the president of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 1 May about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) crisis after the failure of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to reach an agreement on its filling and operation in the latest round of talks in the United States earlier this year, the Egyptian foreign ministry said.
Estonia is currently a member of the UN Security Council and is heading the council in May.
The letter Egypt sent to the Security Council details the stages the GERD issue has passed since its beginning and the actions and positions taken by Egypt in accordance with international law.
In the letter, it is revealed that on 10 April 2020, the Ethiopian prime minister sent a letter to the president of Egypt and the prime minister of Sudan proposing they agree to an Ethiopian plan for the execution of the first stage of the filling of GERD.
That plan was not shared with Egypt or Sudan. On 15 April 2020, Egypt’s president sent a message to the Ethiopian premier stating Egypt’s unwavering commitment to concluding beneficial agreement on GERD, reaffirming that the 2015 Declaration of Principles obliges the three countries to work towards a comprehensive agreement to regulate both the filling and operation of the dam.
Egypt's letter moreover called on the international community to ask Ethiopia to respect its international legal obligations to the 2015 Declaration of Principles and to reconsider its position and to accept the agreement on the filling and operation of the dam initiated by Egypt in February 2020.
Tensions have been building between Egypt and Ethiopia over technical details regarding the operation and filling of the dam, which is under construction near Ethiopia's border with Sudan. Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion project on the Blue Nile will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.
Egypt, which is downstream from the dam, fears that the project will diminish its share of Nile water, on which it is almost entirely reliant for fresh water.
Last November, the US stepped in to host negotiations after Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia announced that talks on the operation and filling of the dam had reached a dead end. The three sides were expected to sign a final deal in late February, when the last meeting was scheduled to be held in Washington, but Ethiopia skipped the meeting, citing domestic reasons.
According to ministry statement, Shoukry also discussed in the call received from Reinsalu efforts to curb the Covid-19 outbreak, especially international cooperation and coordination to exchange expertise.
In the phone call, the Egyptian foreign minister also discussed Egyptian views on the situation in the Middle East.
Reinsalu expressed his aspiration for cooperation with Egypt, asserting that his country is ready to discuss issues of common interest, the foreign ministry said in its statement.