Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said during a UN Security Council session yesterday that the efforts led by the African Union (AU) to resolve the crisis surrounding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) had "reached an impasse".
In a statement the minister said: "Egypt wants to reach a legally binding agreement that protects our interests (…) We come here in search for a viable path towards a peaceful, amicable, and negotiated solution to this crisis, and to avert the dire consequences of our inability to reach a settlement on this matter."
He called on the UNSC to assume its responsibilities and take the necessary measures to ensure that all parties engage in effective negotiations that can lead to an agreement that achieves common interests.
"We present to you a political, balanced and constructive resolution to relaunch the negotiations led by the African Union, in a way that enables the United Nations to use its relevant expertise," Shoukry added
The Egyptian official continued: "If our water rights are affected, Egypt has no alternative but to preserve its authentic right to preserve life."
Sudan's Foreign Minister Maryam Al-Mahdi said her country "supported the construction of the Renaissance Dam from the beginning in a way that preserves the rights of the three countries, especially as it will protect Sudan during the flood seasons."
"Without an agreement on the rules for filling the dam, its benefits will turn into dangers for half the populations in Egypt and Sudan," Al-Mahdi added.
The Sudanese minister stressed the importance of "reaching a binding agreement to protect the human and strategic security of our country," adding that "Ethiopia took unilateral steps that harmed our interests and disrupted our agricultural resources."
Ethiopia notified Egypt and Sudan on Monday that it has begun the process of filling the dam's reservoir. Both Cairo and Khartoum rejected the move as a unilateral measure.
Addis Ababa insists on a second filling of the dam during the rainy season in July and August, even if no agreement is made, and says that it does not aim to harm Khartoum and Cairo, but rather intends to generate electricity for development purposes.
Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan 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 Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn't and issued a statement to this effect.