Ethiopia’s newly appointed Ambassador to Egypt Markos Tekle said it was too early to talk about the failure of the Renaissance Dam negotiations with Egypt.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, the ambassador noted that his country still insists on the talks to resolve the disputes over the dam
“We still believe in the negotiation, and we adhere to our consistent position in this regard,” he said, adding that Ethiopia insisted to move on with the talks without a direct mediator.
“We assume that the African Union will continue to manage the negotiation sessions. But we prefer that the AU only manage the sessions, without assuming a mediating role,” he underlined.
Ethiopia estimates the cost of building the Renaissance Dam at about $4 billion and hopes to become the largest African exporter of electricity and meet the needs of 70 million of its citizens.
Egypt, for its part, warns that the filling of the dam would affect its annual share of 55.5 billion cubic meters, on which it relies to meet 90 percent of its water needs. Cairo has called for a “binding legal agreement regarding the rules of filling and operating the dam.
On his country’s insistence not to have any direct mediator in the talks, Tekle said: “Our position here is quite clear. We did not ask for the help of any mediator, and we still adhere to this position to this day. We believe that Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan can discuss the relevant issues and settle their differences.”
On whether there was a contradiction between his assertion that Ethiopia “negotiates in good faith” and the country’s announcement to start filling the dam before reaching an agreement with Egypt and Sudan, Tekle replied: “Yes, we have embarked on that, but we still hope to reach an agreement through negotiations.”
He explained: “Due to the outbreak of the coronavirus… and other developments, the negotiations did not proceed at the pace we had hoped for. Last summer, the rainy season was very abundant and the first phase of building the dam was completed, and therefore we did not find anything wrong with filling the dam.”
The Ethiopian ambassador admitted the presence of historical competition between his country and Egypt over the Nile Water, but he said: “We focus today on cooperation between the two countries, which together have many resources and areas of production.”