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Egypt Warns Ethiopia against Holding Nile ‘Hostage’

Egypt Warns Ethiopia against Holding Nile ‘Hostage’

Wednesday, 27 January, 2021 - 09:15
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. (AFP file photo)

Egypt warned Ethiopia against prolonging the negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), saying it should not continue to build the dam without reaching an agreement that addresses its fears regarding its share of the Nile River.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry asserted that his country does not negotiate for the sake of negotiating, stressing that Egypt will not accept the consolidation of the status quo on the ground.

Egypt will not be a hostage to the efforts to impose hegemony on the Nile River, he declared before parliament.

Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan have been holding negotiations to resolve the dispute over the GERD for about ten years, without reaching an agreement despite the involvement of the United States, World Bank and African Union.

Egypt and Sudan are demanding a “legally binding” agreement that regulates the filling and operating of the dam, which is built on the main tributary of the Nile, and its reservoir capacity is set to reach about 74 billion cubic meters.

Shoukry explained that Cairo seeks a just and balanced GERD agreement that ensures the preservation of Egypt's interests and water rights.

He pointed out that his country participated in several rounds sponsored by the United States and World Bank, which led to an integrated agreement on the dam, which Egypt initialed.

Ethiopia refused to sign the agreement and proceeded unilaterally to fill the reservoir as a first stage.

Egypt referred the file to the United Nations Security Council, which held a session in June in a historical precedent, to discuss the political and technical implications of GERD.

This is the first time the Security Council discusses an issue related to the use and exploitation of water resources and transboundary rivers.

Shoukry said that this move was followed by a series of negotiations under the auspices of the African Union.

Egypt engaged in the negotiations as a tool to reach a fair agreement that would preserve its water rights, stressed the minister.

Egyptian diplomacy also culminated in two decisions during the Arab League ministerial meeting in 2020 and which expressed Arab solidarity with Cairo’s fight for its water rights.

Shoukry said that state agencies are following up on the developments related to the dam on a daily basis, adding that Egypt is keen on maintaining its relations with its African neighbors, especially Ethiopia.

Unfortunately, Ethiopia is so far unwilling to negotiate a real solution, said Shoukry, stressing that Cairo will continue to work to reach a solution that preserves its water rights.

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