The tripartite talk to return negotiation process back to the African soil. Unlike Egypt’s interest, Ethiopia’s position is that the talk is about the dam, not the entire Nile River
May 22, 2020
Weeks after lodging protest letter to the United Nations Security Council against Ethiopia’s move to conduct the first phase of filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,
Egypt expressed this week a willingness to resume tripartite negotiations.
According to Aljazeera, Egypt shifted its position following the meeting between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Sudanese Counterpart, Abdalla Hamdok, which happened on Thursday.
The Foreign Ministry of Egypt said on Thursday that “Egypt is always ready to enter into negotiations and participate in upcoming meetings … to reach a fair, balanced and comprehensive agreement,” as quoted by Aljazeera.
Egypt has been pushing Ethiopia to go back to the US-brokered Washington negotiation before starting to fill the dam. Ethiopia insisted that filling the dam in the first phase does not violate international law.
This week, a spokesperson of the United Nations Secretary-General issued a statement in which it encouraged Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan to resume negotiation in accordance with the Declaration of Principles which the three countries signed in Khartoum in 2015.
Ethiopian Water experts say that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Egypt thinks that it has offered what it called a “fair” technical proposal – one that “…takes into account the interests of Ethiopia and its electricity needs from the dam, without seriously damaging the Egyptian water interests and its share of water estimated at 55.5 billion cubic meters according to the 1959 Nile Waters Agreement.” For Ethiopia, colonial agreement, which it did not sign, does not work now.
Ethiopia’s dam project is informed by the need to give 65 percent of its population access to electricity and a reliable power supply for investors interested in investing in the manufacturing sector in Ethiopia.
Sudan held, for years, a position that the Ethiopian Dam, over 73 percent of which is completed, is in line with its national interest. Last week, Sudan changed position when it declined to agree with the Ethiopian proposal before Ethiopia started its first phase of filling the dam during this coming rainy season. That same week, Sudan sent High-level delegation to Ethiopia to discuss the border issue and GERD.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia said that an agreement has been reached with Sudanese delegation without giving details of it. However, it disclosed that the two high-level delegations will meet again in Khartoum at the end of June this year.
Sudanese Prime Minister meeting with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed came within 24 hours after the Sudanese delegation returned home from Ethiopia.
Soon after a virtual meeting with Abdalla Hamdok, Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed disclosed that Sudan and Ethiopia have agreed “…to continue with technical level engagements through our Water Ministers tasked to discuss outstanding issues and arrive at win-win solutions…”
It turns out that Egypt agreed to be part of the negotiation. However, it is unclear when the tripartite talk is resuming and where it will happen.
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