Ethiopia says Washington discussion”not mediation,” Egypt eyes for “legal deal”

  • Ethiopia says the Washington meeting which The United States of America organized, on its own initiative, is not a “mediation” process over the Ethiopian Dam project. But Egypt eyes for reaching “legal deal” with Ethiopia.
  • Egypt and Ethiopia have been trading accusations over the failure of tripartite talk. For Ethiopia, Egypt violated an important point from the Deceleration of principles agreement which was signed in 2015
Ethiopia _ Egypt _ Nebiat Getachew
Nebiyat Getachew, Spokes person of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo credit : MFAE

November 1, 2019

Following stalemate in the tripartite talk in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on ways of water filling and operation of the Ethiopian Dam, Egypt has been calling for international mediation.

Ethiopia, on the other hand, made clear its position following Egypt’s call for international mediation that it will not accept third party mediation on matters that are of a technical nature.

As it turns out, the United States of America has invited leaders of the three countries to Washington for “a meeting” which will take place next week and Ethiopia will attend it.

In a weekly briefing in Addis Ababa, Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Nebiat Getachew, described the upcoming meeting just as a “meeting,” and that it is not a mediation process.

Ethiopian News Agency quoted the spokesperson as saying, “The call from Washington is not for mediation rather it is planned for discussion. Since U.S.A is a friend of both Ethiopia and Egypt, its call to discuss the issue basically has no problem.”

The Ministry’s spokesperson also added that Washington’s discussion will not affect Ethiopia’s stand on the construction of Ethiopia’s $5 billion worth dam which is said to be 65 percent completed according to Ethiopian government.

Egyptian news sources reported that Egypt is going to the Washington ‘meeting’ with the objective of “reaching legal accord,” as the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister  said during the Arab Parliament meeting in Cairo on October 31. The Arabian Parliament has expressed solidarity with the Arab Republic of Egypt vis-a-vis the dam controversy with Ethiopia.

Egypt accused Ethiopia for failure to reach agreement during last talk between the water ministers from the three riparian countries.  In turn Ethiopia, accused Egypt saying that the latter breached an important part of the “Declaration of Principles” which was signed between the three countries over four years ago.

From Ethiopia’s stand point, article IX of the agreement has unequivocally stipulated that the three countries will cooperate on the basis of “sovereign equality.” Ethiopia also pointed out other articles of the declaration of principles in relation to equitable use of the trans-border natural resource.

When Egypt showed up for the last tripartite talk in Sudan, it came up with a proposal that rather seemed to violate the sovereignty of Ethiopia. Egypt’s proposal to open up an office near the Ethiopian Dam project site, to control the operation and filling of the dam, was seen as a red line from the point of view of Ethiopia’s sovereignty.

In terms of equitable use of the resource, Egypt demanded that the dam release 40 billion metric cubes of water annually which Ethiopia did not agree on.

It was in this condition that leaders of the two countries met in Russia on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit which took place between October 23 and October 24 of this year.  Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed described the meeting with Egyptian president on October 24 as a “positive” one.

 Abiy Ahmed will be attending the Washington meeting next week, according to Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Ministry sources. 

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