The Egyptian-Canadian Friendship Association of the Canadian Parliament issued a statement on Friday, expressing its deep concern over the stalemate in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) negotiations.
Egypt has warned that Ethiopia will undertake the second filling of the dam without reaching an agreement with both itself and Sudan, the two downstream countries that will be affected by the controversial dam.
The filling of the GERD reservoir violates the Declaration of Principles agreement between the three countries involved in negotiations, namely Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, signed in 2015, and the rules of law.
The association, whose membership includes representatives from various political parties represented in the Canadian Parliament, affirmed its full awareness of the importance of the Nile waters to Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. It also emphasised that the River Nile is the only source of water for Egypt and its population.
It expressed regret that Ethiopia announced its intention to fill the dam’s second reservoir regardless of the course of negotiations. This is considered a violation of the 2015 Declaration of Principles agreement, and represents a serious harm to the water uses of both Egypt and Sudan.
The association emphasised that any unilateral measures that would harm the negotiation process, and endanger the stability of the East African region, should be avoided.
This falls in line with Canada’s well-known stance in defence respect for law and the defence of human rights, including the right to access to water. As part of this, Canada is able to play a diplomatic role to help the parties reach a just solution to this crisis.
Ahmed Abu Zeid, Egypt’s Ambassador to Canada, expressed his appreciation for the statement issued by the Egyptian-Canadian Friendship Association.
He noted that it represents the voice of truth and justice towards this crisis, which is being closely monitored worldwide. It also reflects the human conscience that realises the importance of the River Nile to the Egyptian people.
It additionally underlines the need to prevent a single country from controlling the River Nile, which would violate international laws and norms.
Abu Zeid thanked all members of the Egyptian-Canadian Friendship Association and its leadership for their follow-up to this important issue. He also pointed to their keenness to support the negotiation process, and encourage the three parties involved to continue talks to reach a comprehensive and binding agreement.
This agreement would cover the rules for filling and operating the dam, whilst ensuring that the interests of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia are achieved without harming any side.
The three countries have been negotiating for almost a decade now to reach a legally binding and comprehensive deal on the GERD’s construction, which Addis Ababa started to build on the Blue Nile in 2011.
Ethiopia rejected several proposals by Egypt and Sudan on the negotiation mechanism, including mediation by an international quartet. This led to the collapse of the African Union (AU)-sponsored talks which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) capital, Kinshasa, in April.
Egypt’s 100 million-plus population depends on the River Nile for over 95% of its fresh water needs. Sudan fears the massive Ethiopian dam will put the operation of its Roseires Dam and the lives of 20 million Sudanese citizens at “a very high risk”, if an agreement regulating the operation and filling of GERD is not reached before the second filling in July.