Egypt and Ethiopia are once again embroiled in a new dispute over the latter’s massive dam project, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which is being built across a main tributary of the Nile.
The new development comes after Cairo issued a fresh warning saying ‘all options are on the table’ to deal with any threat to its water supply posed by the Ethiopian mega-dam.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned on Wednesday, “All options are open, and all options are available, and so are Egypt’s capabilities and its foreign relations.”
“We simply declare all options open without defining specific procedures, and it serves Egypt’s interest to retain all available options.”
A day later, Addis Ababa dismissed the Egyptian foreign minister’s remarks as “irresponsible”.
“Such threats constitute a flagrant violation of the United Nations Charter and the Constitutional Act of the African Union,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement released later on Thursday.
“It also stands as a clear violation of the Agreement on the Declaration of Principles on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) signed between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan on 23 March 2015.”
“Egypt must stop its draconian and illegal pronouncements,” the statement said.
Ethiopia called on all concerned to pay attention to what is a gross violation of the principles of international relations by Egypt, underscoring that no interests can be furthered through threats and intimidation.
The Ethiopian statement said, “If approached in good faith and with full respect for the principles of international law, an amicable solution between the three countries is within reach” in negotiations under the auspices of the African Union.
The statement said, “Once again, Ethiopia reiterates its call on the parties to rejoin the African Union platform and reach a negotiated solution on GERD. On its part, Ethiopia seeks a win-win solution to the matter.” committed to.”
The dam has been in talks between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt for nearly a decade since Addis Ababa launched the project in 2011.
In his Wednesday remarks, Shoukari accused Ethiopia of failing to reach a binding agreement with Egypt and Sudan on its long-running dispute over GERD.
Shoukri said, “Egypt’s signing of the agreement of principles with Ethiopia was an expression of its goodwill, but unfortunately we did not find flexibility on the Ethiopian side.”
The Egyptian minister, however, said that his country “will continue to hold talks with all countries to resolve the water dispute, despite the lack of commitment from Ethiopia”.
Cairo and Khartoum fear that the mega-dam project will eventually reduce their historic water shares from the Nile and therefore see the Ethiopian dam as a threat to their water security.
They insist that Ethiopia halt water-filling operations until a legally binding agreement is reached with Ethiopia on the overall operation of the dam.
However, Addis Ababa argues that the dam will not have a significant impact on natural water flow in downstream countries.
Last week, the Ethiopian government accused the Arab League states of “politicizing” the Nile Dam issue.
The accusation comes after the 22-member league passed a resolution regarding the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The Arab League on Thursday passed a resolution endorsing Egypt’s historic water rights to the Nile River’s resources.
In its response, Addis Ababa accused Ethiopia of being biased in its position on the long-standing dispute over GERD between Ethiopia and the downstream countries, Sudan and Egypt.
“The league is once again acting as a spokesman for a state in defiance of basic principles of international law,” Ethiopia’s foreign ministry said in a statement last Friday.
The statement said, “Such attempts to politicize the issue of GERD neither advance friendly relations nor support efforts to reach an amicable solution, as they are not based on facts or supported by law. “
The Ethiopian statement further said, “Let us not remind the League that the Nile River and all the riparian countries are found in Africa.”