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Ethiopia took advantage of 2011 turmoil in Egypt to build GERD: PM

Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Wednesday delivered an urgent statement to the plenary session of the House of Representatives regarding the latest developments of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) crisis and the results of Egypt’s diplomacy with Ethiopia and Sudan.

Madbouly said that Ethiopia had made a unilateral declaration to start the construction of the dam in 2011, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt at that time.

Egypt has made efforts to avoid any political crises with these countries, or crises related to the water shortage crisis, the Prime Minister stressed.

He reviewed what the Egyptian state has done and what projects it made and will undertake to conserve and utilize water resources and secure Egypt’s historical rights to the Nile water.

“I assure the people that the state, with all its institutions, is committed to preserving Egypt’s historical rights in the Nile waters, both through political and technical means and full consultation, and to support all bridges of cooperation with Ethiopia and Sudan to reach a consensus with them, provided they do not affect Egypt’s historic rights,” Madbouly said.

He added that Egypt has made great effort in negotiations and dialogue with Ethiopia and Sudan, yet although all international conventions established that any announcement on any project should be in consultation with the countries affected by the establishment of this project, as of the 2011 unrest in Egypt, Ethiopia had started its operational steps unilaterally.

Egypt has met many obstacles from the Ethiopian side, Madbouly stated. The last round of negotiations witnessed intransigence from Ethiopia on certain baselines, related to the filling and operation of the dam as a mechanism that will be sustainable after the dam becomes a reality.

He added that Egypt has found it necessary to stage an urgent intervention and bring in an international mediator, especially after Ethiopia announced the start of the dam’s pilot operation in 2020.

The Prime Minister stressed that Egypt is not against any developmental projects serving any country. There are dozens of projects implemented by countries in agreement with Egypt, and Egypt has even participated in the financing and implementation of these dams, such as the implementation of a giant dam in Tanzania.

On its end, the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Egypt’s proposal to invite a third party in the discussions is an unwarranted denial of progress in the trilateral technical dialogue, and violates the agreement on the Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries on March 23, 2015.

The Ethiopian News Agency published a statement from the Ethiopian Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy, saying that “Egypt’s new proposal on the GERD has become a point of contention between the two countries, and it’s crossing the red line drawn by Ethiopia.”

It added that “Egypt proposed that the dam should be filled in seven years and the filling could progress if the level of the water at Aswan Dam reaches 165 meters above the ground. It also proposed that Ethiopia should release 40 billion cubic meter water annually.”

“Ethiopia rejected the proposal because the construction of the dam is a matter of national survival and sovereignty,” the statement read.

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