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Addis Abeba, January 14/2020 – Amidst what looks like a standoff following the 7th & last trilateral technical meeting between the water affairs ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which ended without agreement it is becoming a matter of urgency that diplomatic cautiousness is badly required this time than ever before as Egypt’s changing interests of are becoming unbearable for Ethiopia to uphold. 

Why talks and outcomes so far fall short of good faith and are deadlocked

GERD has become a hot potato to the larger public as talks on its filing and operations were renewed following a dialogue hosted by the United State of America. However, all the ill-motivated talks including the latest round culminated with stalemate. Once the negotiating states have resumed talks on the filling and operations of the GERD, under the observatory status of the US secretary of treasury and World Bank they have made four consecutive talks in Addis Abeba, Cairo and Khartoum. They were expected to reach an agreement by preparing a guideline on the filling of reservoirs and operations. Fortunately or unfortunately, depends on the interests of each negotiating states, the talks came to an end with no final agreement as expected. The reason for the deadlock is Egypt’s outrageous proposal on 12-21 years of period for the filling of the dam. Egypt’s proposal indeed seems a systemic run away from the talks by ratcheting up the terms of the negotiations. It becomes obvious that Egypt still advocates the historic and natural water flows of the Nile River which is against to the cardinal principles of all international water laws. Though technical talks on the filing and operations of the dam are worthy Egypt’s move so far is inaccurate. With this position, bridging the gap in the Nile Waters dispute will remain impossible. 

It is thus important to review the themes for tripartite negotiations and the steps that the negotiating states are traveled so far. On a joint statement issued at the Washington, the three states outlined the themes for the negotiation with the anticipation of a guideline on the filing and operation of the GERD. The themes included, inter alia, periods of filling the reservoirs, quantity of water flow en route to Sudan and Egypt, and measures to be taken during drought seasons.

There is an utterance from both sides that positions are narrowed down. But it is Ethiopia who closes to the positions of Egypt. Ethiopia shows readiness to fill the dam from 4 to 7 years though not welcomed by the public. But Egypt has expounded this period three times in its renewed proposal on the last technical talk. This stance forced Ethiopia to hold positions that ‘Egyptians came to Addis for not reaching agreement.’ Nonetheless, Egypt has accused Ethiopia for misleading the facts. Read More...

Dejen Yemane Messele, For Addis Standard


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