Egypt seeks ction from United Nations Security Council to pressure Ethiopia to sign a “binding deal,” before second phase of GERD filling
Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, and the Irrigation Minister, Abdel Aty, were in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Wednesday this week when they met with their counterparts from Sudan.
They met to discuss how to make Ethiopia sign a “binding agreement” over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam before the second filling of the dam, which is scheduled for next month.
According to a report by Reuters, the two countries have reached an agreement and issued a joint statement. They agreed “to coordinate efforts to push Ethiopia to negotiate “seriously” on an agreement on filling and operating a giant dam it is building on the Blue Nile.”
Sudan Tribune reported that the two countries also agreed “to coordinate bilateral efforts at the regional, continental and international levels to press Ethiopia to negotiate in good faith and true political will to reach a comprehensive, fair and legally binding agreement on filling and operation of the Renaissance Dam.”
As the disputes over GERD heightens, the two countries rushed to sign a military cooperation agreement in March of this year- something many understood to be a sort of psychological war against Ethiopia. Not just that, in late May of this year, they undertook joint military training in Sudan involving air and ground forces of the two countries.
Meanwhile, on Thursday Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had a conversation with the UN Secretary-General António Guterres regarding GERD. He reportedly told him that “Security Council can push Ethiopia to ‘engage in serious negotiations with an honest political will’ to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD),” as reported by Ahram.
The last trilateral meeting between the three countries was held in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the African Union playing a leading role in brokering the deal. The agreement reached a deadlock after Egypt and Sudan proposed changing the role of observers (namely United States, UN and European Union) to a level that could impact the outcome of the negotiation.
Ethiopia says the demand for “binding agreement” before the second filling of the GERD, which is expected to retain 13.9 billion cubic meters of water to run two turbines for early power generation, violates the Declaration of Principle agreement that the three countries signed in 2015.
Another important difference is that Egypt and Sudan want to transform the negotiation in a way to make it a deal over the Nile river. Ethiopia rather wants the negotiation to be about GERD – particularly about the filling and operation of the dam. Even regarding the operation of the dam, ideas from Egypt to have an office in the project site to monitor operation is something that Ethiopia considers to be a violation of Ethiopia’s sovereignty for which the government seems to have popular support.