Egypt has warned Ethiopia against filling the Renaissance Dam it is building on the Blue Nile before reaching a binding and legal agreement on the filling and operation process.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Sunday that his country is ready to launch a new serious negotiation process that takes into account the interests of Cairo, Khartoum, and Addis Ababa.
Ethiopia has been building the dam on the main tributary of the Nile since 2011, and its Ministry of Water, Irrigation, and Energy announced the completion of about 78 percent of the construction so far.
Last week, it announced the dam is expected to hold 13.5 billion cubic meters of water in the upcoming rainy season.
Authorities started filling the reservoir on July 21, 2020. However, the completion of the first filling phase prior to reaching an agreement with Egypt and Sudan irked both countries.
Cairo has been seeking through intense diplomatic efforts to receive international support for its position against Addis Ababa’s.
On Sunday, Shoukry received a phone call from Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto, during which he affirmed that his country “had hoped for the success of the African Union (AU) efforts in resolving the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s (GERD) issue.”
The AU-sponsored talks between Cairo, Addis Ababa, and Khartoum over the operation and filling of the mega-dam have faltered and were stalled in January, despite the intervention of international actors such as the United States and the European Union with observers.
Shoukry expressed his country’s aspirations to resume talks under the AU's new chairmanship of Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi.
“The Egyptian state has expressed its political determination to reach a fair and balanced agreement that achieves Ethiopia’s development goals while preserving Egypt’s rights and protecting the two downstream countries from the dam’s potential dangers,” a foreign ministry statement read.
Addis Ababa refuses to legalize any agreement reached, which binds it to specific measures to alleviate the drought.