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EU Prepared to Take on ‘Bigger Role’ in GERD Talks

EU Prepared to Take on ‘Bigger Role’ in GERD Talks

Wednesday, 14 July, 2021 - 07:15
Shoukry and Borrell meet in Brussels. (Egyptian Foreign Ministry)

After meeting with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell on Tuesday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry revealed that the bloc is prepared to play a “bigger role” in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) talks should they resume.

Trilateral GERD negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia were brought to a halt last April after the three countries failed to reach an agreement on filling and operating the controversial damn, built on the main tributary of the Nile River.

The lack of agreement has forced downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, to present their case to the UN Security Council last week.

For over a year, the African Union (AU) has been sponsoring GERD talks with observers from Washington and the EU.

However, Shoukry, who is currently on a visit to Brussels, revealed that the EU could leave its role as an observer to play a more significant part in sponsoring the negotiations.

“There is a willingness for the EU to convert itself from an observer to a bigger role,” said Shoukry, noting that the matter remains tied to the fate of the AU-sponsored track.

During his meeting with Borrell, Shoukry discussed a range of issues in the context of the partnership between the EU and Egypt.

The officials discussed regional issues extensively.

Both parties expressed concern about the situation regarding the GERD and discussed the importance of the Nile waters for downstream countries, including Egypt.

Borrell stressed that efforts led by the AU to resolve the dispute have the support of the EU and need to be intensified to reach a solution agreeable to all parties.

He also reiterated the EU’s regret of the announcement by Ethiopia of the second filling of the GERD without reaching a prior agreement with downstream partners on this issue.

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