22 September 2020 10:54 AM

GERD: Points of contention to be discussed on 4-5 August

Tuesday، 04 August 2020 - 12:09 PM

Egypt slammed Ethiopia's unilateral initial filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on Monday August 3 during the second round of African Union (AU)-brokered talks.

Egypt criticised the Ethiopian action that was taken without consultation or agreement with downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, a statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said.

Ethiopia's initial filling of the dam "bears negative implications that show Ethiopia doesn't want to reach a fair agreement," said Mohamed Abdel-Atti, the Egyptian Minister of Irrigation.

The Ethiopian action "violates the Declaration of Principles" signed in 2015, Abdel-Atti stated.

Monday's trilateral meeting was conducted via video-conference in the attendance of observers and experts from the United States, EU Commission and AU Commission.

Abdel-Atti urged the need to seal an agreement on the filling and operation of the dam to reach consensus on other controversial issues.

He referred to Egypt's suggestion concerning the working mechanism of the talks held for two weeks, stressing that based on the 21 July AU mini-summit -- held via video-conference among the heads of state of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia as well as the president of South Africa, the current chair of the African Union -- the current negotiations will focus on filling and operating the GERD and that talks over future projects will follow after reaching agreement over the mega-dam.

During the meeting, Sudan urged the necessity of signing a trilateral agreement that safeguards its Roseires Dam on the Blue Nile and ensures the smooth exchange of information in accordance with international law, stated the Sudanese Ministry of Irrigation.

At the end of the meeting, it was agreed that the technical and legal committees will hold meetings to discuss points of contention .on 4-5 August before presenting their conclusion at a ministerial meeting slated for 6 August.

The new round of talks comes after the announcement of Addis Ababa that the initial filling of the dam’s reservoir had already taken place without reaching an agreement.

Egypt and Sudan have repeatedly expressed their concerns over Ethiopia's unilateral initial filling of the dam during the first meeting of the second round of talks mediated by the AU over the disputed dam.

The filling came as the first round of AU-sponsored talks over the project ended two weeks ago without an accord, despite the leaders of the three countries agreeing in a mini-summit held later on continued discussions over the filling and operation of the dam.

Egypt said it agreed with Sudan and Ethiopia to prioritise reaching a legally binding deal on the filling and operation of the mega-dam, and the AU called on the three countries to "work expeditiously to finalise the text of a binding agreement."

However, Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti said at a press conference in Addis Ababa two weeks ago that Ethiopia wants a guiding agreement on the GERD that is non-binding.

Egypt has voiced concern over Ethiopia's refusal to agree on rules regulating the filling and operation of the GERD during drought and dry years.

Cairo is also concerned about future projects on the Blue Nile, a main tributary of the Nile, and demands binding dispute settlement mechanisms, which Addis Ababa has refused to include in a deal.

Egypt, which relies on the Nile for 95 percent of its fresh water, fears the dam will significantly reduce the river’s flow, especially during the filling stages through periods of drought and dry years. Ethiopia, on the other hand, says the project is key to its development.

Ahram online


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