President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi stressed on Saturday night that Egypt is committed to preserve the country’s water share of the Nile river. Al-Sisi tweeted saying that he has been following the latest trilateral meeting on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which saw no progress.
“We will continue to take all necessary political procedures in the framework of international law to guarantee this right. The Nile will always be the historical and geographical bond that links the north and south,” said Al-Sisi.
Al-Sisi’s statements came few minutes after the end of the trilateral meeting between representatives of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan in Khartoum, to address the problematic points of the GERD.
Also, on Saturday night, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced the failure of GERD negotiations for the third time, and that the negotiations with Ethiopia have reached a deadlock. It referred to the Ethiopian stance which rejects all proposals that preserve Egypt’s water interest and avoids disastrous impacts of the dam in Egypt.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office tweeted, following the meeting, saying that “Ethiopia commends the Water Affairs Ministers of Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt for convening in Khartoum to continue with the trilateral dialogue on the filling and operation of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.”
He reiterated the rights of all 11 Nile basin countries to utilise Nile water based on the principles of equitable utilisation without causing significant harm, as well as underlining the right of Ethiopia to develop its water resources to meet the development needs of its people.
“The Government of Ethiopia will reinforce its effort to make the ongoing trilateral dialogue a success. It also expects a similar commitment from the two downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia stands ready to resolve any differences and outstanding concerns by consultation among the three countries,” Ahmed said.
Egypt’s ministry of irrigation further explained that Ethiopia surprised the attendees in the tripartite technical meeting in Khartoum with a new proposal against all the previous agreements regarding the filing and operating of the GERD.
The filling and operating period of the GERD are the main issues between the parties, amid the Ethiopian insistence on three-year storage period while Egypt requests seven-year filing period.
The past round of negotiations between Cairo and Addis Ababa failed as the latter rejected “with no discussion” Egypt’s vision regarding the rules of filling and operating the GERD.
According to the statement of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation, the Ethiopian proposal excluded any guarantees for an annual discharge from the GERD, or policies regarding future and protracted droughts.
Ethiopia also refused to discuss the rules of operating the dam and insisted on limiting the negotiations of the filling phase and its rules of operation. The Ethiopian stance contradicts the fifth article of the Declaration of Principles Agreement signed on 23 March 2015. It also violates the international legislations regarding constructing and managing dams over common rivers.
Spokesperson of the Ministry of Irrigation Mohamed El Sebae said that the Ethiopian rejection to the Egyptian proposal has led to a deadlock in negotiations. He added that the Egyptian proposal considered the interest of the three countries.
He accused Addis Ababa of putting obstacles in the course of negotiations over the past four years since the signing of the declaration of principles.
In light of the failure of negotiations, Egypt called for applying article 10 of the declaration of principles.
According to article 10, “If the Parties [three countries] are unable to resolve the dispute through consultation or negotiation, they may jointly request for conciliation, mediation or refer the matter for the consideration of the Heads of State/Heads of Government.”
In response to the Egyptian call, the Sudanese Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation, Yasser Abbas, rejected including any fourth party into the negotiations, expressing trust in the current committee to reach a solution for the issue.