Egypt's FM Shoukry: Ethiopia's stances on filling, operating GERD affirm its intransigence

MENA , Wednesday 16 Jun 2021

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said the stances adopted by the Ethiopian side regarding an agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) affirm Ethiopia's intransigence and "attempts to evade the goal."

Shoukry made the remarks Wednesday in response to journalists' questions on the outcome of his visit to Doha and the Arab foreign ministers’ meeting on GERD. His comments came during a joint press conference with Luxembourg’s Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Jean Asselborn, currently visiting Cairo.

The consultative meeting of the Arab League Council was held at the request of Egypt and Sudan, to discuss the Ethiopian dam issue, Shoukry said, noting that the council issued a decision in which it supported the Egyptian-Sudanese position and the water rights of both countries.

It also called on Ethiopia to take more flexible positions and seek to reach an agreement on filling and operating the GERD, he added.

Shoukry said Egypt has sought, over ten years, to reach an agreement that ensures the shared ownership of the Nile River, as well as Ethiopia's right to development without harming the water interests of the two downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.

He recalled that Cairo and Khartoum have made concessions and showed flexibility in order to "provide an opportunity for brothers in Ethiopia to improve the standard of living and achieve development."

"But so far we have found no political will on the part of the Ethiopian side to sign an agreement that has been formulated in Washington. The Ethiopian negotiator participated and agreed on all its terms, and then backtracked when the time came for signing it," the foreign minister added.

Shoukry also highlighted the great efforts exerted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, which were followed with other endeavors from the DR Congo’s leader in the same regard, noting that Cairo sought to resume negotiations.

However, negotiations have been disrupted due to the Ethiopian side’s refusal to resume them, he said, stressing that all those stances reflect Ethiopia’s intransigence.

Shoukry pointed out that Egypt has sought to change the situation through all political means and urged the international community to assume its responsibilities, since the situation may result in heightened tensions that could have negative impacts on security and stability in the region, as well as across all Africa.

The Egyptian foreign minister noted that Cairo asked Addis Ababa to imitate Europe's successful experiences in the field of water resources management, in addition to relevant success stories in Africa, where there are committees that manage the Niger and Senegal rivers.

Benefiting from such good experiences could have been very much possible had it not been for the Ethiopian side’s intransigence and insistence to impose its will by claiming absolute sovereignty over an international river, in violation of international law, he added.

For his side, Asselbon commented on GERD issue in the press conference, saying that he hoped that the international community would find a solution to this problem.

The Luxembourg FM stated his country understood the Egyptian perspective, but that it could not prod Ethiopia into doing anything. “Luxembourg is trying to contribute to the solution,” he said.
Asselborn also said that Luxembourg was working to prepare agreements to boost economic cooperation, revealing that efforts are under way to sign an agreement on avoiding double taxation.
He said that this would boost trade cooperation between the two sides.
Concerning the human rights issues, he said he did not come to Egypt to give lessons about human rights, yet he encouraged more countries to respect them.
Praising Egypt’s efforts to reach and maintain a ceasefire deal between the Palestinian factions and Israel, Asselborn regretted the European Union’s failure to reach a consensus to facillitate a ceasefire deal.
He said the EU spent years focusing on the Iranian and Saudi files and neglected the Palestinian-Israeli file.
Noting that establishing a Palestinian state is not a threat to Israel, Luxembourg's top diplomat wished the new Israeli government would choose peace. 
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