Joint Statement of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, the United States and the World Bank

16 Jan

By Keffyalew Gebremedhin The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

Here under is the January 15, 2020  Washington D.C. joint statement, as agreed by the three Nile riparian delegations in Washington, D.C. 

Washington, DCThe Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Water Resources of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and their delegations met with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of the World Bank, participating as observers, in Washington, D.C. on January 13-15, 2020.  The Ministers noted the progress achieved in the four technical meetings among the Ministers of Water Resources and their two prior meetings in Washington D.C. and the outcomes of those meetings and their joint commitment to reach a comprehensive, cooperative, adaptive, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. 

Toward that end, the Ministers noted the following points, recognizing that all points are subject to final agreement:

    1. The filling of the GERD will be executed in stages and will be undertaken in an adaptive and cooperative manner that takes into consideration the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the potential impact of the filling on downstream reservoirs.
    2. Filling will take place during the wet season, generally from July to August, and will continue in September subject to certain conditions.
    3. The initial filling stage of the GERD will provide for the rapid achievement of a level of 595 meters above sea level (m.a.s.l.) and the early generation of electricity, while providing appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan in case of severe droughts during this stage.
    4. The subsequent stages of filling will be done according to a mechanism to be agreed that determines release based upon the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the level of the GERD that addresses the filling goals of Ethiopia and provides electricity generation and appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan during prolonged periods of dry years, drought and prolonged drought.
    5. During long term operation, the GERD will operate according to a mechanism that determines release based upon the hydrological conditions of the Blue Nile and the level of the GERD that provides electricity generation and appropriate mitigation measures for Egypt and Sudan during prolonged periods of dry years, drought and prolonged drought.
    6. An effective coordination mechanism and provisions for the settlement of disputes will be established.

The Ministers agree that there is a shared responsibility of the three countries in managing drought and prolonged drought.

The Ministers agreed to meet again in Washington, D.C. on January 28-29 to finalize a comprehensive agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD, and that there will be technical and legal discussions in the interim period.

The Ministers recognize the significant regional benefits that can result from concluding an agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam with respect to transboundary cooperation, regional development and economic integration that can result from the operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.  The Ministers of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed the importance of transboundary cooperation in the development of the Blue Nile to improve the lives of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan, and their shared commitment to concluding an agreement.

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The above is my initial reaction, as the Editor of The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO), in a first reading of the three Nile riparian states delegations’ statement (above) and my concerns thereon, as reflected in my Twitter comment (above). Unless there is some mechanism somewhere from previous discussions, on account of the language of para #1, Egypt will have been offered an opportunity it could exploit whenever it wants, among others, being difficult—as it has always been—its eyes on Cairo’s advantages. 

As experienced negotiators, I presume, the members of the Ethiopian delegation must have secured fallback position to revert to in the event of a situation, such as mentioned above. 

No further details about the issue that fostered tense moment.  This picture, below, I got from Addis Fortune’s  ‘Dammed Talks” during the Addis Abeba phase of the negotiations does not tell much the what abouts.

It gives the sense disagreements are bound to happen within the same delegation, given the complexities of the issues and national sentiments at the background! It’s in the nature of the beast—Nile negotiations!

CAPTION:

Sileshi Bekele (PhD) (centre), minister of Water, Irrigation & Electricity, and Zerihun Abebe, a member of the technical committee from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.(left),

 

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