Egypt has reiterated its rejection of any "unilateral" measures on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) by Addis Ababa as the latter still intends go ahead with the dam's second filling in July despite the lack of an accord with Cairo and Sudan.
A statement released by the Egyptian foreign ministry on Thursday said Ethiopia's anticipated step would cause great risk to the two downstream countries, especially if it coincides with periods of natural drought.
The statement comes in response to recent remarks made by the Ethiopian Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen, in which he said his country intends to complete the filling of the GERD's reservoir even if the three countries did not reach an agreement.
The Egyptian foreign ministry asserted that Ethiopia's continued intent to fill the GERD's reservoir unilaterally is an "irresponsible act and is a clear violation of the Declaration of Principles (DoPs)."
The DoPs is an agreement signed between the three countries in March 2015 that obliges Ethiopia to cooperate with Egypt and Sudan in filling and operating the dam. The agreement also mandates the use of mediated negotiation in the event of a dispute arising from differences in the interpretation or application of the declaration of principles.
The decade-long negotiations between the three countries have been on hold due to Addis Ababa’s refusal to sign a legally binding deal on the rules for filling and operating the controversial dam to ensure the downstream countries’ water rights.
Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez stressed that "Egypt has displayed patience and acted wisely and responsibly, and negotiated for a full decade in a serious manner and in good faith to reach a fair and legally binding agreement on the dam."
"However, the Ethiopian side pursued a policy based on procrastination that led to the collapse of all negotiation tracks over the past years," Hafez added.
Hafez also added that Egypt stands with Sudan as filling the GERD unilaterally may inflict harm on Sudanese dams, which are close to the Ethiopian dam.
"The Egyptian state is committed to preserve and protect its water rights and interests, and ward off any harm to them," he stressed.
He noted that Egypt has already taken precautionary measures to deal with the second filling to limit its potential effects.
It will also continue to "monitor closely" the Ethiopian actions to ensure that no harm is inflicted on Egypt's water interests or its rights upheld by international laws, conventions and norms, he added.
Ethiopia plans to store 13.5 billion cubic meters of water in the dam’s reservoir during the second filling.
Egypt fears that the massive $4.8 billion Ethiopian hydropower project will significantly diminish its crucial water supply, which is already in scarce supply.
Sudan warned last month that it would take legal action if Ethiopia moved forward with the second filling of the GERD in July without first signing a legally binding agreement.