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Friday, 17 September 2021

No one should play with fire in GERD dispute, warns Austria’s foreign minister

Ahram Online , Tuesday 13 Jul 2021
This file photo taken on December 26, 2019, shows a general view of the the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) under construction, near Guba in Ethiopia. AFP

Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Tuesday that “no one should play with fire” in the current stage of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute.

In statements to Egyptian talk show “On my responsibility" on Sada El-Balad TV channel, Schallenberg said that the River Nile is a matter of existence and it is not owned by a specific country.

“There are international laws that regulate those issues [of trans-boundary rivers] and no country can control alone the matter,” he added.

Schallenberg stated that the European Union was extremely concerned over Ethiopia's unilateral actions.  

The top Austrian diplomat revealed that he spoke with Ethiopian officials recounting to them the Danube River and its history as an example on how to resolve the conflicts and disputes over trans-boundary rivers.

He also suggested that the upstream country should send its experts to study the Danube River’s history so they can benefit from that.

The Danube River runs through ten countries, the largest number in the world, while the Nile comes second with nine countries.

The Egyptian foreign minister has been in Brussels since Sunday to hand over a message from President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to President of the European Council Charles Michel.

In statements to Cairo-based Extra News on Saturday, Shoukry stated that Egypt was seeking to involve the EU in future negotiations over GERD’s filling and operation policies along with the UN and the US under the auspices of the African Union.

Last week, the EU said "a jointly agreed clear roadmap is urgently needed for GERD, and called for setting out the timeframe and specific aims of the negotiations for talks to resume as soon as possible. It also criticized Ethiopia for commencing the second filling of GERD without reaching an agreement.

The EU also called upon the three parties to resume negotiations under the auspices of the African Union.

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