Ethiopia, Egypt hopeful that GERD negotiations will resume

Aaron T. Rose
4 Min Read
A picture taken on May 28, 2013 shows the Blue Nile River in Guba, Ethiopia, during its diversion ceremony (AFP/File, William Lloyd-George)
A picture taken on May 28, 2013 shows the Blue Nile in Guba, Ethiopia, during its diversion ceremony.  (AFP Photo)
A picture taken on May 28, 2013 shows the Blue Nile in Guba, Ethiopia, during its diversion ceremony.
(AFP Photo)

There are positive signs that Egypt will soon come to the negotiating table with Ethiopia over Nile usage and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Damn (GERD), said Ethiopian State Minister for Foreign Affairs Berhane Gebre-Christos in a Friday statement.

In a meeting with Head of the EU Delegation to Ethiopia Chantal Hebberecht, deputy head of the delegation Barbara Plinkert, and German Ambassador to Ethiopia Lieselore Cyrus, Gebre-Christos said that the GERD complies with international trans-boundary standards, will not harm downstream countries, and its sole purpose is to generate electric energy.

“Hebberecht, on her part said that the EU Commission is very much committed to encourage the different parties into a constructive dialogue and to reach a win-win and sustainable solution,” read the statement. “She further added that the EU will continue to support and to encourage comprehensive dialogue regarding Nile issue.”

“We will see. There’s a good environment, and this should be reflected in some serious negotiations,” said Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Badr Abdelatty, adding that he hopes to see progress in the coming days and weeks.

Abdelatty said that in order for Egypt to reach a deal with Ethiopia, Ethiopia must meet the recommendations about the dam put forth by the International Panel of Experts, and that the dam must not harm the interests of any country.

“We want to be provided with more information to assess the implications of the dam,” said Abdelatty. “We don’t want it to harm water flow.”

A solution can only be found through all parties showing good intentions, serious negotiations, and “political will”, said Abdelatty.

The GERD has been a perennial source of tension between Egypt and Ethiopia since construction began in 2011. A series of previous tripartite talks last autumn and winter between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan—another upstream country—have failed. The talks focused on the formation of a committee to implement recommendations put forth by a report detailing confidence-building measures concerning the dam and its effect on downstream nations.

The Egyptian foreign ministry announced in March a detailed outline of the official stance on the GERD. Egypt wants to negotiate a “win-win” situation for all parties involved, both protecting the developmental need of Ethiopia and the water security of Egypt and Sudan.

However, the Egyptian side said Ethiopia continuing the construction process at the dam site “violates all the well-known international legal principles regarding projects and/or constructions on international rivers”, adding that it has broken a number of international agreements.

According to the foreign ministry, the Ethiopian side violated an agreement on the framework for cooperation with Egypt signed in 1993 where each party committed to “refrain from engaging in any activity related to the Nile waters that may cause appreciable harm to the interests of the other party”.

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Aaron T. Rose is an American journalist in Cairo. Follow him on Twitter: @Aaron_T_Rose