Tunisia has never been against any party involved in the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the Foreign Minister, Othman Jerandi, said yesterday.
“Tunisia has been working hard to establish contacts with Ethiopia on this issue,” Jerandi said during the Arab League’s Annual Consultative meeting.
Jerandi’s remarks came days after statements by Addis Ababa saying Tunisia was “making a historical mistake by submitting a draft resolution to the UN Security Council to stop the second filling of the dam.”
He accused Ethiopia of “spreading falsehoods” about the matter.
In response, the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry said Tunisia was undermining what it described as “its venerable responsibility as a rotating member of the Security Council holding an African seat.”
The UN Security Council recently issued a presidential statement calling for resuming talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The statement said that the council was not the “competent authority in technical and administrative disputes over water sources and rivers,” calling on the parties “to return to the 2015 Agreement of Principles.”
“Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia must move forward in a constructive and cooperative manner in a negotiation process led by the African Union,” the council stressed.
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.
There is also an unresolved issue over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly, it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam.
In July, Ethiopia informed downstream countries Egypt and Sudan that it had started the second phase of filling the dam’s reservoir in an effort to take advantage of the rainy season. Egypt responded saying: “Addis Ababa is violating international laws and norms, and is treating the River Nile as its own property.”