The second round of the tripartite meetings on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) witnessed the emergence of conflicts of interests.
The meetings are currently being held in Khartoum between the Egyptian, Ethiopian, and Sudanese ministers of foreign affairs and water.
The main point of debate was Ethiopia’s plans to store water inside the dam during the next five years, which it claims will not affect other countries. However, Egypt has been pushing for delays of this move until the technical studies on the dam’s effects on downstream countries are completed.
The current round of talks follows up on talks that began earlier in December, but failed to reach a common agreement.
On Saturday, Ethiopia announced it began the diversion of the Blue Nile, which was perceived by some experts as a sign that it will complete the construction of the dam regardless of the current meetings.
However Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources Hossam Al-Moghazy denied its link to GERD’s technical details, and said it was a “normal step”.
“Egypt is trying to build on the steps previously taken and preserve the declaration of principles between the three countries,” Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said during the meeting.
In March, they signed a declaration of principles on the dam wherein they agreed to safeguard the interests of all three countries.
“The Egyptian-Sudanese relationship has special ties of brotherhood and common destiny, and we are now reviving our relations with Ethiopia, with which we share a long history of common heritage and Nile,” he said.
Shoukry highlighted the importance of forming relations that ensure stability and reassurance for the countries.
In a similar context, Shoukry quoted President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s verbal message to Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir on Sunday: “The declaration of principles is the main asset for building trust and achieving common wins for the three countries.”
An official statement by the ministry further announced forming a joint committee between Egypt and Sudan to discuss potential cooperation between both countries in various fields.
“We are here to emphasise the importance of the issue of water, which is a common issue of national security for all countries,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Ghandour said at the meeting.
“The resumption of talks after only two weeks signifies commitment to fostering partnerships between all parties,” Ethiopian President Tedros Adhanom said. “We are keen to reach a common agreement; if there is a will to work there will be a way and no room for disputes.”
Local experts and former officials have commonly agreed the pace of talks is going much slower than the GERD construction process. Ethiopia has already built 50% of the dam, according to Al-Moghazy.
An expert on Sudan and the Nile Basin at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies Hani Raslan previously told Daily News Egypt that he expects that the current meeting will not end in a resolution of the issues it addresses.
While Raslan finds the likelihood that the Egyptian state will turn to an alternative measure doubtful, he thinks resorting to the Peace and Security African committee might be a more effective strategy and that an independent study is not beneficial for Egypt as the country needs a “real solution”.