Tunisia's Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi (photo: AFP)
Tunisian Foreign Minister Othman Jerandi affirmed on Tuesday his country's full readiness to defend the Egyptian and Sudanese rights in the River Nile waters.
Jerandi's remarks came during his speech at the Arab League's (AL) extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) crisis in Doha on Tuesday.
The AL's GERD-focused meeting was held in light of the stalled negotiations of the Ethiopian dam between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia since April and Addis Ababa's imminent unilateral second-year filling of the $4.8 billion hydropower project, which the two downstream countries reject without forging a legally binding deal over its filling and operation.
Jerandi also reiterated his country's stance expressed by Tunisian President Kais Saeid in supporting Egypt and Sudan in preserving their water interests, considering the matter an Arab national water security.
During a joint press conference in April with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo, Saeid affirmed that his country would never accept Egypt’s water security to be compromised.
Saeid's statement came few days after the collapse of the 6,000-megawatt dam's last round of talks — which was sponsored by the African Union (AU) and aimed to revive the already stalled negotiations since January — was held in the AU’s chair country, the DR Congo, in April but failed to stir the stagnant water, with both Egypt and Sudan blaming Ethiopia’s “intransigence.”
In a resolution issued on Tuesday, the AL stressed its rejection of any measures that would undermine the water share of Egypt and Sudan, calling for the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to intervene in the crisis which risks aggravated tensions in the region.
On Saturday, Egypt sent a letter, which Ahram Online exclusively had a copy of, to the president of the UNSC expressing its objection to Addis Ababa's plan to move ahead unilaterally with the second filling of the GERD in July in the absence of a legally binding agreement.
Egypt fears the massive $4.8 billion hydropower project will significantly diminish its water supply, while Sudan fears it would threaten the lives of millions of its people and risk its national security.