Ethiopia expresses dissatisfaction with Arab League’s resolution on GERD issue

Sami Hegazi
5 Min Read

Ethiopia has expressed its dissatisfaction with the Arab League’s resolution on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue, noting that it will continue to fill the dam and adhere to an “African” solution to the crisis.

A statement issued by the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry stressed that “the management and use of the Nile River, including the filling and operation of the dam, should be left to the relevant authorities in Africa, and we should not remind the Arab League that the Nile River and all riparian countries are in Africa.

The statement added that the African Union(AU) is working to facilitate trilateral negotiations between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to resolve the remaining outstanding issues, guided by the principle of ” African solutions to African problems,” and that the league’s description of the negotiations on the other hand is incorrect and rejected.

The statement stressed that the Ethiopian government continues to fill and operate GERD in accordance with the declaration of Principles agreement signed in March 2015 between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan, with full respect for the principle of fair and reasonable use of transboundary waters.

On Wednesday, The Arab League adopted, following a ministerial meeting, “a resolution on the GERD unanimously, calling on Addis Ababa to show flexibility on the issue, as well as to put the crisis as a permanent item on the agenda of the league’s Council.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said last Thursday that the negotiations on the GERD, in which Egypt participated under African auspices, “did not bear fruit,” stressing that “the Egyptian state will defend the interests of its people.

Shoukry stated that “Egypt always seeks a binding legal agreement regulating the filling and operation of the Dam to ensure the development of Ethiopia and the absence of serious damage to the downstream countries.

He pointed out that “the three countries have been engaged in long negotiations, and Egypt has provided insights on how to manage the file in a consistent manner with the rules of international law and the experiences of other countries.

Minister Shoukry pointed to the dependence on the assistance of many parties such as the United States (US), the African Framework and the summits and presidents of the AU.

He noted that” the negotiations that Egypt engaged in under African auspices did not bear fruit, “stressing the importance of Ethiopia assuming responsibility during that stage, with the continuation of the construction of the dam and the fourth unilateral filling.

The foreign minister stressed that “Egypt continues to seek to reach an agreement, if there is real political will,” adding: “over the past years, no agreement has been reached, despite all the positive theses and flexibility shown by Egypt, so there is doubt about the availability of political will.

He stressed the importance of Ethiopia not taking unilateral measures on the GERD file, and the need to take into account the interests of the two downstream countries and the absence of serious damage to them, by reaching a binding legal agreement.

“Without a doubt, the Egyptian state will defend the interests of its people and take the necessary measures,” Shoukry said. “However, we always seek harmony, understanding and action, and the work has been accomplished on the African level, as evidenced by the management of the Senegal River by agreement among the surrounding countries, in accordance with the established rules.

The past years have witnessed the first, second and third filling of the Ethiopian dam, without any agreement with Egypt or Sudan, amid condemnation by the two States in return for Addis Ababa’s adherence to its position.

Amidst negotiations that have been stalled for more than a year, Cairo and Khartoum are firstly committed to reaching a tripartite agreement on filling and operating, to ensure the continued flow of their annual share of the Nile’s water.

Addis Ababa refuses to confirm that the dam, which it began construction in 2011, is not intended to harm anyone.

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