Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi asserted the need to reach a legally binding agreement with Ethiopia before starting the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Sisi discussed the latest developments concerning GERD with the president of Djibouti Ismail Omar Guelleh in a telephone call.
The two leaders agreed on the need to resolve the GERD dispute to avoid its negative impact on regional security and stability.
Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia for almost 10 years to conclude a legal agreement regulating the filling and operation of the dam, which Addis Ababa built on the main tributary of the Nile to generate electric power.
Egypt fears the potential negative impact of GERD on the flow of its annual share of the Nile’s 55.5 billion cubic meters of water, while Sudan warns that filling the dam without an agreement will damage its dams.
The Spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency, Bassam Rady, stated that both presidents discussed several issues on bilateral cooperation, in light of the bilateral and regional cooperation to achieve common interests and maintain security and stability, especially in the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea.
For his part, Guelleh affirmed Djibouti's pride in the historical and fraternal relations with Cairo, especially that Egypt is always keen to meet the development needs of his country.
Guelleh pointed out that there are broad prospects for developing relations and promoting cooperation frameworks in various fields.
On Friday, Ethiopia reiterated its rejection of the involvement of international parties in the negotiations, stressing that the pressure of Sudan and Egypt would not push it to accept the treaty on dividing Nile waters.
Water relations between Egypt and the Nile Basin countries are governed by treaties and protocols signed by Britain during the colonial era in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The 1959 agreement between Cairo and Khartoum was later added to the treaties.
Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke Mekonnen warned that unnecessary pressures through deliberate politicization or sabotage should rule policies over the Nile, stressing that encouraging cooperation should be the “guiding spirit”.
“Ethiopia would never agree with such unfair terms that seek to maintain the hydro-hegemony of Egypt and Sudan,” said Mekonnen during a virtual conference hosted by the Ethiopian Embassy in London.
The Ethiopian FM indicated that the negotiations over the GERD provide an opportunity if Egypt and Sudan follow a constructive approach to achieving a win-win outcome within the framework of the ongoing African Union-led process.
Recently, Cairo and Addis Ababa exchanged accusations on the responsibility for the faltering GERD negotiations.
The Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held Ethiopian intransigence responsible for the current failure, in exchange for flexibility on the Egyptian and Sudanese side.
The Foreign Ministry affirmed that Egypt is still working within the framework of negotiations to resolve the crisis, in a way that does not harm the interests of Cairo and Khartoum.
Addis Ababa intends to start the second filling of the dam during the rainy season next summer, regardless of reaching an agreement.
Sudan has formally requested four-party mediation of the EU, UN, US, and the AU in the GERD issue, which was accepted by Egypt and rejected by Ethiopia.