Friday, January 31, 2020

Ethiopia, Egypt Failed to Reach an Agreement, “Observers” Want an End to it by Late February
USA and The World Bank are attending as “observers” but there seem to be an interest to advance Egyptian interest at the expense of Ethiopia. More than 80 percent of the Nile water originates from Ethiopia.

January 31, 2020

Egypt and Ethiopia failed to reach an agreement again on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)

Washington meeting, which started on January 28 concluded around midday on January 31, as disclosed by Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy – the leading negotiator on the Ethiopian side.  It was supposed to be a final meeting to sign the agreement.

On Thursday, January 30, 2020, news emerged that  Ethiopian negotiators were under pressure to sign an agreement on the terms of that violates Ethiopia’s sovereignty.  Some in the Ethiopian team reportedly proposed that they need to return home for a consultation. The proposals for “water release from the dam in the event of drought” was one of the critical points that triggered the disagreement.

The US Treasury Department and The World Bank are part of the meeting as “observers,” and seemingly gave more weight to Egyptian interest to the point that Ethiopian negotiators felt the pressure.

Negotiating parties are to meeting again, starting next week to discuss the detailed legal and technical documents. The “observers” and Egypt seem to want an end to the negotiation by the end of February 2020.

The US Treasury Department has published what it called “Joint Statement of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, the United States, And the World Bank.”

The full text of it reads as follows :

Washington, DC – The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Water Resources of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan and their delegations met with the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of the World Bank, participating as observers in negotiations on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), in Washington, D.C. on January 28-31, 2020.  At the conclusion of the meetings, the Ministers reached an agreement on the following issues, subject to the final signing of the comprehensive agreement:

1. a schedule for a stage based filling plan of the GERD;
2. a mitigation mechanism for the filling of the GERD during drought, prolonged drought, and prolonged periods of dry years; and
3. a mitigation mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in drought, prolonged drought, and prolonged periods of dry years.

They also discussed and agreed to finalize a mechanism for the annual and long-term operation of the GERD in normal hydrological conditions, a coordination mechanism, and provisions for the resolution of disputes and the sharing of information.  Moreover, they also agreed to address dam safety and pending studies on the environmental and social impacts of the GERD.

The Ministers have instructed their technical and legal teams to prepare the final agreement, which shall include the agreements reached above, for a signing of the three countries by the end of February, 2020.

The Ministers recognize the significant regional benefits that will result from this agreement and from the operation of the dam with respect to transboundary cooperation, regional development and economic integration.  The Ministers reaffirmed the importance of transboundary cooperation in the development of the Blue Nile to improve the lives of the people of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan.

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