Egypt's Foreign Ministry yesterday expressed its anger over Ethiopian officials' use of "the language of sovereignty" in their recent statements about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
"It is regrettable that the Ethiopian officials use the language of sovereignty in their speeches about the utilisation of the resources of a transboundary [Nile] river," the ministry's spokesperson, Ahmed Hafez, told reporters, stressing that international rivers were a "common property of riparian countries."
Ethiopian Water Minister, Seleshi Bekele, said on Wednesday that his country would complete the second phase of filling the dam "during the coming rainy season in July" and that this would not be postponed "by any means."
"It is not permissible to extend sovereignty over international rivers or seek to monopolise them," Hafez stressed.
The Egyptian official reiterated that natural resources must be used "to serve the peoples of the countries that share them on the basis of the rules of international law, the most important of which are the principles of cooperation, fairness and non-harm."
He pointed out that the statements by Addis Ababa reflected an "absence of the Ethiopian side's political will to negotiate in order to reach a settlement to the Renaissance Dam crisis," reaffirming that the African country was intending "to impose a fait accompli on Egypt and Sudan."
"This is something Egypt rejects because of the threat it poses to the interests of the Egyptian and Sudanese peoples and the impact of such unilateral measures on security and stability in the region," Hafez noted.
Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa have long been in talks over the filling and operation of GERD – a dispute that is yet to be resolved even after the reservoir behind the dam began to be filled in July.
Egypt, which gets more than 90 per cent of its scarce fresh water from the Nile, fears the dam could devastate its economy and reduce its annual share of water.