The construction site of the multi-billion dollar Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Picture taken in June 2017.

Addis Abeba, October 06/2019 – A statement issued by Ethiopia following trilateral talked between the Water Affairs Ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan which took place in Khartoum on 04 and 05 October 2019, denounced Egypt’s latest move to invite a third into the negotiations as disruptive and one that “side-steps[ed]” the working procedure of the NISRG.”

The AP quoted Egyptian presidency spokesman Bassam Radi as saying that “Egypt was looking forward to an “instrumental role” by the U.S. in the talks.”

“He said because there was no breakthrough in negotiations, there was a need for an “international instrumental role to overcome the current deadlock.”” AP reported.

This came in the backdrop of an unusual statement released by the US State Department on October 03 in which the US said it “supports Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan’s ongoing negotiations to reach a cooperative, sustainable, and mutually beneficial agreement on filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,” a move many saw as tilting the balance of negotiations in favor of Egypt.

Last night’s statement from Ethiopia’s ministry of Foreign Affairs added that “the filling plan of Ethiopia that is set to be completed in stages that will take four to seven years based on the hydrology is considerate of the interests of the downstream countries of the Nile. Furthermore, Ethiopia and Sudan followed a constructive and inclusive approach for the discussion of the NISRG. It accuses the Egyptian side of persisting “on its position of having all its proposals accepted without which it was not willing to have the NISRG conduct its analysis.”

Egypt came up with a new proposal during the tripartite meeting which took place in Cairo for the first time in more than a year. Ethiopia has rejected the proposal and said it was “technically impractical and is tantamount to agreeing to hold the operation of the GERD hostage to Egyptian water use downstream. Further since Ethiopia cannot control Egyptian water use/withdrawal from HAD, agreeing to this demand means ending up in perpetual ‘water debt.’”

Ethiopia’s latest statement rebuffed Egypt’s approach as “not new.” Rather, it is “yet another instance of a disruptive tactic it applied to halt the hydrology, environmental and social impact assessment on the GERD. Ethiopia maintains its stand on the possibility of resolving the issues based on trilateral technical consultation and the invocation of principle X of the DOP is premature.”

The statement went on to assure that Ethiopia “upholds the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization and the causing of no significant harm on any other riparian country in the use of the waters of the Nile,” a sentiment consistent with President Sahle-Work Zewde’s recent speech at the UN’s General Assembly.

“Furthermore, the Government of Ethiopia will continue to follow an approach that will not result in direct or indirect recognition of any preexisting water allocation treaty, which has no applicability whatsoever on Ethiopia,” the statement added. AS

Read the full version of the statement here.

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