Egypt Says Ethiopia’s Unilateral Second GERD Filling “Threatens Security” in the Region

Egypt Says Ethiopia’s Unilateral Second GERD Filling “Threatens Security” in the Region

Courtesy of Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources

Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel Ati stated on Tuesday in a virtual conference with Inger Andersen, Director of the United Nations Environment Program, that Ethiopia’s unilateral measures violates the principles of international law and the 2015 Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries (Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia).

In a statement, Abdel Ati noted that while Egypt is not against the development project of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), it rejects unilateral approaches that do not take into account the negative repercussions on other countries along the Nile, particularly Egypt and Sudan, which suffer from limited water resources and the effects of climate change.

This comes after Abdel Ati received on Monday an official letter from Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele confirming that Ethiopia had already began with the process of the second filling phase of the GERD reservoir without reaching a legally binding agreement.

In response to Bekele’s Monday letter, Abdel Ati sent an official letter to the Ethiopian Minister voicing Egypt’s rejection of Ethiopia’s unilateral act, as this represents a violation of the 2015 Declaration of Principles and international law, which regulates projects that are implemented on mutual basins and international rivers.

Abdel Ati added during the virtual conference that Egypt has shown flexibility in negotiation, despite the fact that Ethiopia did not express political will to reach a mutual agreement.

He also referred to examples of past unilateral Ethiopian actions that have negatively affected both Egypt and Sudan’s waters, such as the serious damages that Sudan suffered as a result of unilateral filling last year that was implemented without coordination with the downstream countries, which caused Sudan to suffer from a drought that was followed by a severe flood.

Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent the letter that was addressed to Ethiopia’s Minister to the United Nations Security Council, which is expected to hold a session on the issue of the Renaissance Dam on Thursday, July 8, noting that this development reveals “once again Ethiopia’s intentions and its insistence on taking unilateral measures to impose a fait accompli and fill the Renaissance Dam without an agreement that takes into account the interests of the three countries.”

The statement added that this new development will “increase tension in the region, threatening peace and security at the regional and international level.”

Earlier on Saturday, during the inauguration of the 3rd of July naval base, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi stated that Egypt has never threatened any country directly or indirectly, though he affirmed that negotiations should not last forever.

Egypt and Sudan have been engaging in a diplomatic campaign to reach a  legally binding agreement over the Renaissance Dam, though the latest round of talks in Kinshasa regarding the dam ended with no progress.

In response, Ethiopia announced in late April for African Union-sponsored talks and its rejection of “internationalizing” the issue to exert pressure on Ethiopia.

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