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Egypt calls filling of reservoir at Ethiopian dam a ‘violation’ and ‘burden’ on negotiations

September 11, 2023 at 10:36 am

A view of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, a massive hydropower plant on the River Nile that neighbors Sudan and Egypt, as the dam started to produce electricity generation in Benishangul-Gumuz, Ethiopia on February 19, 2022. [Minasse Wondimu Hailu – Anadolu Agency]

The Egyptian foreign ministry said on Sunday that the announcement by Ethiopia that it has completed the fourth filling of the reservoir at the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a “new violation by Addis Ababa” and a “burden” on the recently resumed negotiations between them. “It is,” said the ministry, “a violation of the Declaration of Principles signed between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan in 2015.”

This declaration, the Egyptians pointed out, stipulates that the three countries must reach an agreement on the rules for filling the reservoir and operating the dam before commencing the filling process. “Ethiopia’s unilateral measures are considered a disregard for the interests and rights of the downstream countries and their water security, as guaranteed by principles of international law,” said the ministry on Facebook.

“This approach, along with its negative consequences, imposes a challenge to the ongoing negotiation process, which has a four-month timeline for completion. The upcoming round of negotiations, scheduled to be held in Addis Ababa later this month, is hoped to yield a tangible and genuine breakthrough on the path to reaching an agreement on the rules for filling and operating the dam.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed agreed in July to begin “urgent” negotiations regarding the rules covering the dam, ending within four months. Cairo and Khartoum are committed to reaching a binding agreement with Addis Ababa first on this matter, to ensure the continued flow of their share of water from the River Nile. Ethiopia rejects this approach, and insists that it does not intend to harm the two downstream countries.

Read: A significant field of diplomacy: Trans-boundary water politics