CAIRO – 25 October 2020: Ethiopia is responsible for the failure of reaching a comprehensive agreement with the Nile downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] regarding the operation of the under-construction Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the filling of its dam, said Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel-Atti in an interview with “From Cairo” T.V. program on Sky News Arabia on Saturday.
“It has been agreed on an agreement in Washington. The Ethiopian side agreed on it at the beginning, but later they asked for a time for community dialogue. In the end, they refused the Washington agreement,” Abdel-Atti said.
He added that every country has its own priorities; Sudan needs the safety of the dam, while Egypt cares more about cooperation during periods of drought, and Ethiopia wants to generate electricity quickly.
“We are trying to reach an agreement. We are interested in providing electricity to all Ethiopian people and offer utmost cooperation,” he said.
On Friday evening after signing a peace agreement between Sudan and Israel under the US brokerage, US President Donald Trump stated, at a virtual meeting with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdouk and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that the US had reached a deal for the controversial issue of the dam but it was broken by Ethiopia, urging Hamdouk to do all efforts he can to reach solution to this outstanding issue.
“I had a deal done and they broke the deal and they cannot do that” Trump said, adding, “It’s a very dangerous situation because Egypt is not gone be able to live that way. Egypt might end up blowing that dam, they said it loud and clear they might blow up the dam, and they’ll have to do something.”
In response to the statements of U.S. President Donald Trump, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said, "the Renaissance Dam is the dam of Ethiopia and Ethiopians will continue that work whatsoever. There is no power that can stop us from achieving our goals that we have planned for. We have never been occupied and no one shall rule us in the future," as reported by Sky News Arabia.
Ahmed added in a statement, "No one can harm Ethiopia and live in peace. Ethiopians will win… There are friends who made that history with us. Also, there are friends who betrayed us while making that history. That's not unfamiliar to Ethiopia."
U.S. Ambassador to Addis Ababa Mike Raynor was summoned by Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, asking for clarification on Trump’s comments.
The conflict between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia dates back to May 2011 when Ethiopia started building the dam; Egypt voiced concern over its water share [55.5 billion cubic meters]. Three years later, a series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan began to reach an agreement, while Ethiopia continued the dam construction.
In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam. In October 2019, Egypt blamed Addis Ababa for hindering a final agreement concerning a technical problem, calling for activating Article No. 10 of the Declaration of Principles, which stipulates that if the three countries could not find a solution to these disputes, they have to ask for mediation.
Washington had brokered a tripartite discussion between the three countries, in presence of the President of the World Bank (WB) starting from November 6, 2019 until February 27 and 28, 2020 when Ethiopia apologized for being absent from the negotiations. During these rounds of talks, tangible outcomes were agreed on among the three parties concerning the rules and mechanism of operating the dam and the filling process of the reservoir during the drought and prolonged drought; however, the Ethiopian and Sudanese refused to sign the US/WB-drafted deal.