Egypt’s Proposal Unwarranted Denial of the Progress in Trilateral Technical Dialogue

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Egypt’s proposal to invite a third party in the discussion regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is an unwarranted denial of the progress in the trilateral technical dialogue and violates the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries on March 23, 2015, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.

Ethiopia affirms its position to advance the trilateral technical dialogue concerning the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), it said in a statement issued after the meeting held between the Water Affairs Ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt on 4 and 5 October in Khartoum, Sudan.

Ethiopia is of the conviction that the technical consultation must continue, as it presents the only option for resolution of differences among the three countries with respect to filling and operation of the GERD, the statement added.

The statement states that it also goes against the consent and wishes of Ethiopia and the Sudan; it negatively affects the sustainable cooperation between the Parties; undermines the ample opportunity for technical dialogue between the three countries; and disrupts the positive spirit of cooperation.

Furthermore, the proposal to subject the discussion on filling and operation of the GERD to a political forum is “unjustified by the nature of the outstanding technical issues”.

It will not allow attainment of a successful resolution of the technical issues as it contravenes the direction given by the leaders of the three countries to the Water Affairs Ministers to resolve the technical issues related to filling and operation of the Dam, the statement articulated.

“Ethiopia believes the existing mechanisms of cooperation will allow resolution of differences and reminds the need to refrain from negative media and other campaigns that will have no other effect than eroding the confidence among the three countries,” it stressed.

“Ethiopia will reinforce its efforts to realize development of its water resource to meet the present and future needs of its people that deserve development and adequate standard of living,” it added.

Ethiopia upholds the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization and the causing of no significant harm on any other riparian country in the use of the waters of the Nile, the statement said.  

The statement further states that Ethiopia will continue to follow an approach that will not result in direct or indirect recognition of any preexisting water allocation treaty, which has no applicability whatsoever on Ethiopia.

The AP quoted Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Radi as saying that “Egypt was looking forward to an “instrumental role” by the U.S. in the talks.”

“He said because there was no breakthrough in negotiations, there was a need for an “international instrumental role to overcome the current deadlock.” AP reported.

This came in the backdrop of an unusual statement released by the US State Department on October 03 in which the US said it “supports Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan’s ongoing negotiations to reach a cooperative, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” a move many saw as tilting the balance of negotiations in favor of Egypt.