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Grand Renaissance Dam: Ethiopia Escalates, Rejects Egyptian Proposals

Grand Renaissance Dam: Ethiopia Escalates, Rejects Egyptian Proposals

Saturday, 21 September, 2019 - 07:45
A general view of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia March 31, 2015. (Reuters)

Ethiopia has rejected on Friday Egyptian proposals on the regulations for filling and operating the Renaissance Dam and stepped up its rhetoric, criticizing what it called as a potential violation to its sovereignty.

Cairo, on the other hand, insisted on the terms of the agreement, which was issued following a recent meeting in the Egyptian capital between the Ministers of Water of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Resources in Egypt, Mohamed Al-Sibai, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Egypt was committed to the terms of the agreement issued in the statement at the end of the ministers’ meeting on Monday, regarding the rules of filling and operating the dam.

He added that the proposed items “are quite clear.”

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday that Egypt’s recent proposal on the dam contradicted the development plans it had developed.

“The proposal will make filling the dam complex and burdensome,” the statement said.

The Ethiopian statement came shortly after Egypt announced a failure to make progress in negotiations on filling and operating the $5 billion Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, which is due to be completed soon.

Talks between the three concerned countries had resumed after more than a year of disruption.

Egypt fears that the Ethiopian dam will reduce its share of water, which reaches it from the Abyssinian plateau through Sudan, estimated at 55.5 billion cubic meters. Ethiopia, for its part, says that the project does not harm the downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan.

Asharq Al-Awsat tried, without success, to get an official response from the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

The two countries of the mouth of the Nile - Egypt and Sudan - and the upstream state – Ethiopia - are engaged in negotiations launched more than seven years ago on the construction of the Renaissance Dam to avoid damaging Egypt’s share of the Nile water.

In September 2016, the three countries reached an agreement with two French offices to carry out technical studies to determine the social, environmental and economic impacts of the construction of the dam. However, no final conclusions approved by all parties were reached and negotiations are still ongoing.

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