Egypt hopes not to be obliged to re-refer GERD issue to UNSC: Shoukry

Egypt hopes not to have to re-refer the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), according to Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry. 

However, it’s the responsibility of the Security Council to take appropriate actions to prevent any threat to international peace and security, Shoukry stressed in televised statements on Monday evening.

He added that according to the international law, any significant harm caused to Egypt due to the Ethiopian Nile dam would constitute a “red line.”

The minister’s statements follow the announcement that the 11 days of African Union (AU)-brokered negotiations over the Nile dam dispute have come to a fruitless end.

The negotiations were observed by the AU Assembly Bureau, representatives from AU member states, the US, and the European Union (EU). They included online meetings between legal and technical committees from the three countries involved in the dispute on the Ethiopian dam, namely; Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. 

Ministers of Water Resources and Irrigation from the three concerned countries also met during the failed round of talks.

On Monday, Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced that the main points of contention between the three parties remain disputed. These points had particularly focused on the dam’s filling and operation and providing a legal framework for resolving any potential conflicts.

Shoukry explained that the Ethiopian dam issue is related to international peace and security. He stressed that Egypt is committed to the AU-guided framework for GERD negotiations, according to the outcomes of the AU’s mini-summit at the level of presidents in late June.

The minister denied Ethiopian claims that Egypt aims to control the River Nile, saying, “The river belongs to all countries in accordance with international laws, rights, and obligations.”

He noted that Egypt respects the AU’s mechanisms and recognises the union’s ability to help the parties involved in negotiations overcome the problem.

On Tuesday, Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele, wrote on Twitter that “The trilateral negotiations on GERD that have been ongoing for the last 11 days in the presence of observers and augmented experts ended last night. Although there was progress, no breakthrough deal was made. Today, we are preparing reports for the AU and our respective leaders.”

He added, “The negotiations are expected to continue after review by the AU President, AU Bureau members and the Leaders of the three countries, in accordance with their instructions.”

Each country should present a final report on the negotiations to South Africa, the current chair of the African Union (AU) on Tuesday. A further African mini-summit is expected to be held for a final discussion on the disputed issues in the Ethiopian dam.

Satellite images captured on 9 July by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-1 satellite showed an increase in water reserves in the dam’s reservoir. As a result, Ethiopian media have begun to report that Addis Ababa has started the filling process.

However, an expert told Daily News Egypt that the amount of water captured in the dam’s lake is normal as it is the beginning of the rainy season.

Shoukry pointed out that it is not possible to talk about progress in the negotiations in percentage terms, as all efforts that were made by Egypt and Sudan to develop perceptions, alternatives and proposals for the Ethiopian side did not bring the desired result.

Nevertheless, Sudan’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Yasser Abbas, said that Khartoum has made consensual proposals on the legal points of disagreement. The negotiations witnessed a convergence with regard to drainage of water to the Sudanese Roseires Dam. 

Abbas pointed out that the African mini-summit on the Ethiopian dam is anticipated to be held within a week. 

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