EU and UN Secretary General Call for Negotiations on GERD as Sudan is trying to Mediate between Ethiopia and Egypt
By Bernabas Shiferaw
May 20, 2020
The increasing tensions between Ethiopia and Egypt as a result of their disagreement concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam have become a concern for the international community.
The USA and the Arab league have taken positions on the issue, siding with Egypt. China has expressed an interest in helping the three countries reach a consensus.
Now, the European Union and the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, have called for negotiations among Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan with the aim of reaching a mutually beneficial agreement. Sudan, for its part, has commenced a mediation process in an attempt to bridge the gap between Ethiopia and Egypt.
According to Fana Broadcasting Corporation (FBC), the European Union has sent a letter to the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, expressing its acknowledgement of the Dam’s strategic significance to Ethiopia. This letter came following Ethiopia’s mission that went to Brussels to explain to the Union Ethiopia’s stance in the matter.
In the letter, the Union has urged the countries involved to return to the negotiation table. The union has also offered to send its experts that have a lot of experience with regards to rivers that flow across international boundaries. The Union has invited Prime Minister Abiy to visit EU’s headquarters at Brussels, when circumstances allow a visit, to discuss possible cooperation between the Union and Ethiopia.
Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, has, through his spokesperson, encouraged the three countries involved to continue with efforts to overcome their differences and reach a mutually beneficial agreement on the GERD. He has underscored the significance of the “2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD.”
The declaration outlines the countries’ commitment to cooperation and to resolve differences through negotiations. It also states that if a dispute cannot be resolved, the matter can be referred to the Heads of State and Government with an option for a joint request for mediation.
However, many Ethiopian experts agree that seeking mediation with the international community is a disadvantage to Ethiopia and so resent the signing of this declaration. They had also protested the involvement of the US in the negotiations.
Sudan is also trying to , after having rejected Ethiopia’s proposal concerning the filling of the dam, is now mediating between Ethiopia and Egypt, to make the continuation of negotiations possible. The Sudanese Prime Minister has spoken to his Egyptian Counterpart Mustafa Madbouli. The meeting was also attended by the respective ministers for water and irrigation and foreign affairs, and intelligence chiefs on both sides.
Their discussion focused on figuring out ways to resume negotiations which would make feasible an agreement that is acceptable to all parties involved. According to Sudan’s council of ministers, this will be followed by another meeting between the Sudanese and the Ethiopian Prime Ministers in which the same matter will be discussed.
On a related note, the Ethiopian government is exerting diplomatic efforts by holding a series of meetings with foreign Ambassadors based in Addis Ababa in which it is presenting the national and regional significance of the GERD and the issues surrounding its construction and the filling. There was a meeting today with Ambassadors from countries of Pacific Asia and the Middle East, in which Gedu Andargachew, the Foreign Affairs Minister, and Mr. Gedion Asfaw, from the Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Energy, offered these explanations. There was also another meeting yesterday held with Ambassadors from African Countries.
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