Egypt’s foreign ministry yesterday slammed the Ethiopian government’s recent remarks on the Arab League (AL)’s resolution for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute.
In an official statement, the ministry described the Ethiopian foreign ministry’s comments as “inappropriate, lacked diplomacy, and made an unacceptable insult to the Arab League and its members.”
“Ethiopia’s posture and position during these negotiations, which has been criticized by the AL, evinces its intent to exercise hydro-hegemony and to anoint itself as the unchallenged and sole beneficiary over the Nile,” the ministry said, adding that Addis Ababa was “insisting on filling the GERD unilaterally in July 2020 without reaching an agreement with downstream states [Egypt and Sudan], and while holding negotiations on the GERD hostage to domestic political considerations.”
The statement pointed out that the AL resolution was reflecting “dismay and discontent at Ethiopia’s track record throughout the endless rounds of negotiations on the GERD, particularly since the conclusion of the 2015 Agreement on the Declaration of Principles (DoP).”
The ministry noted that Addis Abba’s stance was constituting a “material breach of the DoP and demonstrated, beyond any doubt, Ethiopia’s bad faith and its lack of political will to reach a fair and balanced agreement on the GERD.”
Calling on the international community “to join the AL in taking cognizance of Ethiopia’s continuing defiance and unilateralism, which threatens to undermine regional stability and security,” the ministry stressed that Cairo was still having a “fair and balanced solution that achieves the interest of the disputed parties, and provides a historic opportunity to write a new chapter of cooperation between the three countries.”
“A win-win solution is at hand and should be seized for the benefit of over 240 million Egyptians, Ethiopians and Sudanese,” the foreign ministry reiterated.
Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan. It says it will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes that when the barrier is filled, already scarce water supplies from the Nile will be restricted.
Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture and electricity.
After three-way talks between the African countries failed, they settled in the US as an external mediator.
In November, the US-brokered a meeting in Washington, setting 15 January as a deadline for resolving the dispute, which at one point looked set to break into a military conflict between Cairo and Addis Ababa. They agreed on four rounds of negotiations. The first was held in the Ethiopian capital, the second in Cairo and third in Khartoum.
Despite discussions looking up, over Christmas, they stalled again after the third round in the Sudanese capital.
Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt had abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn’t and issued a statement to this effect.
There is also an unresolved conflict over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly, it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam. Egypt wants it to be filled over seven years, at least, while Ethiopia is pushing for four.