Ethiopia reiterated its intention to proceed with the second filling of its Grand Renaissance Dam, stressing that there will be no changes to the schedule.
This came in a statement issued by Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Seleshi Bekele, on Tuesday, in conjunction with a meeting held by the Council of Arab Ministers at the request of Egypt and Sudan. The Arab officials called on Ethiopia to “refrain from taking any unilateral measures that harm the water interests of Egypt and Sudan.”
Earlier, Cairo has threatened to resort to the UN Security Council if “Ethiopia’s intransigence” on the dam file continued.
Bekele said following a meeting of the Eastern Nile Council of Ministers (ENCOM), held in Addis Ababa on Tuesday, that “nothing will change regarding filling the dam as it is in line with the construction work in the upcoming rainy season.”
“The second filling process will continue, as it has nothing to do with any other issue,” he added.
The Ethiopian official continued: “This approach is very clear to all the riparian countries, and nothing will change as we are to continue working accordingly.”
At the end of a meeting held in Doha on Tuesday, the Arab foreign ministers expressed “great concern over Ethiopia’s announcement of its intention to start the second phase of filling the dam’s reservoir during this year’s rainy season [July and August] without reaching an agreement on filling and operating the dam.”
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry responded by expressing unease over the position and forwarded its “complete rejection” of the Arab foreign ministers’ remarks.
Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, told Al Jazeera on Monday that his country will request the UN Security Council meet if “Ethiopia’s stubbornness” continues regarding the Renaissance Dam file, as negotiations have stalled for months.
Ethiopia is in the process of filling its $5 billion Grand Ethiopia Rennaisance Dam (GERD) near the border with Sudan, which it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.
Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture and electricity.
Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn’t and issued a statement to this effect.