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Ethiopia Acknowledges Int’l Pressure, Egypt’s Diplomatic Weight in GERD Dispute

Ethiopia Acknowledges Int’l Pressure, Egypt’s Diplomatic Weight in GERD Dispute

Monday, 22 March, 2021 - 11:30
This satellite image shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia on Tuesday, July 28, 2020. (Maxar Technologies via AP)

Ethiopia acknowledged international pressures on it due to the dispute with Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Director-General of Coordination of Public Participation to the GERD Construction Aregawi Berhe attributed the pressure to Cairo’s “far-reaching diplomatic influence.”

“Bolstering Ethiopian unity is very important in standing against the meddling of foreign forces in the country’s internal affairs and exploitation of its resources,” he stressed.

In statements carried by Ethiopia’s official news agency (ENA), he said that even though the Egyptians have not contributed a single drop in the Nile waters, they have controlled the diplomatic aspect of the dispute for years, while “we who own the resource languish in poverty.”

The time has come to reverse this equation, he urged.

Addis Ababa began constructing the 1.8-kilometer-long GERD in 2011 to generate power.

Cairo and Khartoum, however, continue to stress the need to reach a binding and comprehensive agreement that guarantees the rights and interests of the three countries, and include a mechanism for settling disputes on the filling and operation of the dam.

They fear the potential negative impact of the dam on the flow of their annual share of the Nile’s 55.5 billion cubic meters of water.

Cairo has recently intensified its diplomatic efforts, along with Khartoum, to prevent Addis Ababa from proceeding with the second filling of the dam’s reservoir.

Ethiopia rejects a Sudanese proposal, which Cairo backed, to form a quartet committee that includes the European Union, the United Nations, the United States and the African Union to mediate the GERD talks.

Meanwhile, it is seeking to mobilize internal support to confront any international pressure against it.

According to a member of the Ethiopian negotiating team, involving the quartet in GERD talks aims to delay the dam’s second filling process and undermine Ethiopia’s right to equitable and reasonable use of the Nile waters.

“The idea of quartet mediation is not a genuine proposal by Egypt and Sudan but rather a trap for their cynical goal,” ENA quoted Ambassador Ibrahim Idris as saying.

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