No deal from US-brokered Blue Nile dam talks nor Ethiopia’s participation assured

29 Feb

Print this page Africa No Deal from US-Brokered Nile Dam Talks By Patsy Widakuswara February 29, 2020 02:20 AM FILE PHOTO: Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the river Nile in Guba Woreda,… FILE – Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam is seen as it undergoes construction work on the Nile in Guba Woreda, Benishangul Gumuz Region, Ethiopia Sept. 26, 2019.

Washington, DC – On February 27-28, 2020, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin participated in separate bilateral meetings with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Ministers of Water Resources of Egypt and Sudan.

The United States facilitated the preparation of an agreement on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) based on provisions proposed by the legal and technical teams of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and with the technical input of the World Bank.

In separate bilateral meetings, the Ministers shared their comments on the agreement.  The United States believes that the work completed over the last four months has resulted in an agreement that addresses all issues in a balanced and equitable manner, taking into account the interests of the three countries.

This process has built on the prior seven years of technical studies and consultations between the three countries, and the resulting agreement, in our view, provides for the resolution of all outstanding issues on the filling and operation of the GERD.  The foundation of the agreement is the principles agreed between the three countries in the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles (DOP), in particular the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization, of not causing significant harm, and of cooperation.

We appreciate the readiness of the government of Egypt to sign the agreement and its initialing of the agreement to evidence its commitment.  We also recognize that Ethiopia continues its national consultations, and look forward to its concluding its process as soon as possible to provide for the signing of the agreement at the earliest possible time.  Consistent with the principles set out in the DOP, and in particular the principles of not causing significant harm to downstream countries, final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement.  We also note the concern of downstream populations in Sudan and Egypt due to unfinished work on the safe operation of the GERD, and the need to implement all necessary dam safety measures in accordance with international standards before filling begins.

The United States reaffirms its commitment to remain engaged with the three countries until they sign the final agreement.

We note that a signed agreement on the GERD will be transformational for the region, resulting in significant transboundary cooperation, regional development and economic integration, and improvement in the lives of the more than 250 million people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.  We are pleased with the significant work by the countries over the last four months, which has only been possible due to the strong commitment to constructive dialogue and cooperation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia noted with disappointment the Statement issued by the United States Department of Treasury on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) released on 28 February 2020, following a meeting held without Ethiopia’s participation. Ethiopia had notified Egypt, Sudan, and the US that it needed more time to deliberate on the process.

Ethiopia as the owner of the GERD will commence first filling of the GERD in parallel with the construction of the Dam in accordance with the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization and the causing of no significant harm as provided for under the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles (DoP).

Ethiopia does not accept the characterization that the negotiation on the Guidelines and Rules on the First Filling and Annual Operation of the GERD (Guidelines and Rules) is completed. The “text” reportedly initialed by the Arab Republic of Egypt in Washington D.C. is not the outcome of the negotiation or the technical and legal discussion of the three countries. Ethiopia made it clear that the Guidelines and Rules must be prepared by the three countries. The Countries are yet to address outstanding issues pertaining to the finalization of the Guidelines and Rules.

Ethiopia, with the full knowledge and agreement of Egypt and Sudan has addressed all dam safety related issues during the International Panel of Experts process. Egypt and the Sudan had expressed their appreciation under Principle 8 of the DOP and Ethiopia will continue to implement it in good faith.

Ethiopia is committed to continue its engagement with the Arab Republic of Egypt and the Republic of the Sudan to address the outstanding issues and finalize the Guidelines and Rules on the first filling and annual operation of the GERD.

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Council Of Ministers Passes Decisions On Various Agendas, Including GERD

Regarding GERD, the statement underlined:

“As far as GERD is concerned, the Council said the Ethiopian Government will not engage in any negotiation that harms the country’s national interest.”

In his twitter message, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gedu Andargachew twitted:

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