Egypt Drops Key Demands on GERD; Agreement Expected Next Month

By Staff Reporter

Sileshi-Bekele-GERDDecember 24, 2019 (Ezega.com) -- Egypt has come up with a new proposal suggesting that the natural flow of the Nile River should be maintained as Ethiopia begins operation of its hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile, Ethiopian official has said.

Briefing journalists on Tuesday in Addis Ababa on the outcome of the recent talks between Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt in Khartoum, Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Sileshi Bekele said Ethiopia has rejected Egypt’s proposal as it denies the rights of upstream countries to make use of the Nile water.

The minister said Egypt, however, has dropped its previous proposal which requires Ethiopia to release 40 billion cubic meters of Nile water annually to the downstream countries as it begins operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

He said the latest negotiations between Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan in Khartoum were fruitful as the three countries also agreed on the dam’s filling period which is set to between four and seven years.

In August this year, Egypt proposed that it needs Ethiopia to release 40 billion cubic meters of water annually to downstream countries and until the Aswan Dam holds water as high as 165 meters above sea level.

According to the minister, Egypt also dropped this proposal too and Ethiopia will not be required to release water until the level of water in Aswan Dam reaches as high as 165 meters.

"Egypt’s move to withdraw its proposals on the two issues was a big success for Ethiopia,” he said.

The three parties further deliberated on the volume of water that Ethiopia should release in case of drought occurrence in the Ethiopian highlands where the Blue Nile originates.

The minister said Egypt and Ethiopia didn’t reach an agreement on the volume of water to be released during drought times because Egypt needs 40 billion cubic meters of Nile water to reach its territory while Ethiopia proposed to release up to 35 billion cubic meters.

The Minister is optimist that the three countries will reach an agreement on the issues on the next round of talks scheduled to take place from 8-9, January 2020, in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Following their meeting in Addis Ababa, the three countries will meet in Washington D.C. on January 15, 2020, to finalize their agreement on the filling and operation of the dam.

If an agreement is not reached by January 15, the three countries will invoke article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles but It is not clear that if article 10 will be final and binding.

Article 10 states that “The three countries commit to settle any dispute resulting from the interpretation or application of the declaration of principles through talks or negotiations based on the goodwill principle.

The new round of talks in the presence of the US and World Bank as observers aims at resolving disputes over Ethiopia’s controversial Grand Renaissance Dam, which is set to become Africa’s biggest hydroelectric power plant.

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