Egypt‘s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has called upon the international community to urge the parties involved in the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to reach an agreement.
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, the parties in the issue, have failed to resolve the dispute, despite almost a decade of negotiations.
During his speech before the 75th UN General Assembly, President Al-Sisi said that negotiations should not continue forever as realities on the ground are changing. He conveyed Egypt’s “heightened concern” over the project that Ethiopia is constructing on the River Nile “that has given life to millions of people over thousands of years.”
The current round of negotiations started on 27 July, in the presence of observers from the African Union (AU) Assembly Bureau, alongside representatives from AU member states, the US, and the EU.
The current round aims to reach a legally binding agreement between the three countries on the dam’s filling and operation, in accordance with the principle of no-harm.
“We have spent nearly a decade in painstaking negotiations with our brothers in Sudan and Ethiopia, seeking to reach an agreement that regulates the filling and operation of the dam,and which achieves the required balance between the development requirements of the Ethiopian people and saving Egypt’s water interests and ensuring its right to life,” Al-Sisi said.
The president said that the three parties have engaged in successive rounds of intensive negotiations over the current year, in which the US administration has exerted appreciated efforts.
He also said that the US efforts have been aimed at bringingthe three countries’ stances closer, through the talks it has sponsored in collaboration with the World Bank.
“Over several months, we also sincerely engaged in the discussions that took place at the initiative of the Prime Minister of Sudan, Abdullah Hamdouk, and after that in the negotiation rounds that were initiated by South Africa, the current chair of the African Union (AU), but unfortunately these efforts did not lead to the desired results,” he added.
The outcomes of the latest Ethiopian dam negotiations on 28 August reflected deep divisions between the three countries involved. The most recent round of talks ended without consensus on the disputed points regarding the filling and operation of the GERD.
Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy said,following the 28 August meeting, that the parties are expected to reconvene on 14 September. No meetings were held.
Al-Sisi said that the River Nile is not the monopoly of a single party, and for Egypt, the river’s waters are a necessity for survival, without detracting the rights of other countries.
To emphasise the seriousness of the situation, Al-Sisi pointed to the Security Council response to Egypt‘s call to hold a consultation session on the issue on 29 June. He added that this issue is directly related to the maintenance of international peace and security.
The Egyptian President stressed that the negotiation period should not be extended indefinitely in an attempt to impose a fait accompli, saying that “our peoples yearn for stability, development and a promising new era of cooperation”.