GERD Talks Fail Due to New Demands from Egypt

By Staff Reporter

GERD-meeting-Addis-AbabaJanuary 10, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopia said the latest talks with Sudan and Egypt over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project on the Nile River ended without agreement due to Egypt’s new demands.

Briefing journalists on the outcome of the latest talks held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Dr. Sileshi Bekele said the discussion ended without agreement as Egypt came up with a new proposal suggesting that the dam filling period shall be between 12 and 21 years.

“Egypt has presented an ‘unfair’ proposal requiring Ethiopia to fill the dam in up to 21 years, which Ethiopia unconditionally rejected,” he said

In their latest negotiations in Khartoum, the three countries had reached an agreement on the dam’s filling period to be between four and seven years.

The previous talks in Khartoum were somehow successful as Egypt dropped its previous proposal which required Ethiopia to release 40 billion cubic meters of Nile water annually to the downstream countries as the dam begins operating.

However, during the previous talks, Egypt had come up with another proposal requiring the upstream countries, including Ethiopia, not to affect the natural flow of the Nile River.

The latest talks ended with disagreement also due to Egypt’s new requirement that Ethiopia shall release at least 40 billion cubic meters of water during drought times and 14.5 billion cubic meters of water in case of severe drought in the region, which Ethiopia once again rejected.

Ethiopia proposed it will release 35 billion cubic meters of water at times of drought and 13.5 billion cubic meters of water when there is severe drought in the region.

Another point of disagreement during this round of talks was when the Egyptian delegation brought their previous proposal to require Ethiopia to release as much water as possible until water in the Aswan Dam reaches 165 meters above sea level, a proposal which the Ethiopian delegation rejected.  

This is the second time that Egypt changed its stance on the filling of the Ethiopian grand dam.

Ethiopia is set to begin filling the dam as of July this year and will continue to do so in a very responsible manner, Sileshi said, adding that the country will do take all the necessary mitigation measures in case of drought occurrence and severe drought during the filling and operation of the Dam.

According to Dr Seleshi, the latest round of talks was not cordial as the delegation of Egypt was insisting to have its entire proposal accepted by the other two negotiating parties.

In spite of their disagreement, the three countries will meet in Washington on January 13, 2020, for the final discussions.

According to the minister, technical talks between the three countries have been exhausted. He said we will see what a political decision will be.

The countries had agreed that if an agreement is not reached by January 13, they will invoke article 10 of the 2015 Declaration of Principles.

Article 10 states: “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." Furthermore, “If the parties involved do not succeed in solving the dispute through talks or negotiations, they can ask for mediation or refer the matter to their heads of states or prime ministers,” the article states.

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