A Week in the Horn 26.06.2020

News in Brief

Ethiopia’s letter addressed to UN Security Council regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Congressional Black Caucus Statement on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

FM Gedu: Egypt has been Obstructive in the Tripartite Talks over the GERD

Spokesperson Ambassador Dina Gives Briefings on Current Circumstances Surrounding the Tripartite Talks

 

Africa and the African Union

On the daily press briefings by the office of the spokesperson for the UN secretary General held on Monday (June 22), the spokesperson said that the UN is watching very closely the developments, the various statements coming from the different parties around the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.  He said, ‘’we urge Egypt, we urge Ethiopia and Sudan to work together to intensify efforts to peacefully resolve outstanding differences.  I think, for us, it’s important to underscore the importance of the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the dam, and that declaration emphasized the cooperation based on common understanding, mutual benefit, good faith, the win‑win aspect and the principles of international law.  So, at this point, we’re encouraging progress towards an amicable agreement in accordance with these principles.’’

Ethiopia

Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed said on Thursday (June 25) Ethiopia stands in solidarity with the Sudan in its time of transition. The Premier also called up on the development partners to stand in support of Sudan so as to help the nation and its people unlock their growth potential. The premier attended Sudan Partnership Virtual Conference organized to mobilize support for Sudan.

Ambassador of Republic of Somalia to Ethiopia Abdihakim Abdulahi Omar on Thursday (June 25) said his country firmly supports successful completion of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Amassador Abdihakim Abdulahi Omar said GERD is a peaceful project that brings hope not only to Ethiopia but the whole of the African continent. GERD is nearing to become a pillar for regional economic and social integration among people of the horn, he stressed. The filling of the dam reservoir which starts from upcoming July, 2020 is timely and acceptable for it doesn’t cause any harm to downstream countries, the Ambassador asserted.

Foreign Affairs Minister Gedu Andargachew bade farewell to the outgoing ambassador of Finland, Helena Airaksinen on Thursday (June 25). Gedu has extended gratitude to Ambassador Helena Airaksinen for she has exerted unreserved efforts to bolster the bilateral relationships between Ethiopia and Finland during her four years tenure. The longstanding ties between the two countries has continued to grow better despite the coronavirus pandemic through an active role plaid by the outgoing ambassador, Gedu said.

Gedu Andargachew, Minister of the Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, on Thursday (June 25) bade farewell to the outgoing Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia, Torbjorn Peterson. Gedu thanked the Ambassador for his service and reiterated Ethiopia’s commitment to strengthening the ties between the two nations. The Ambassador appreciated the ongoing reform in Ethiopia and reiterated his country’s commitment to further enhance relations between the two counties. He further appreciated Ethiopia’s measures so far taken to assuage the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sicily Kariuki, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Irrigation of Kenya said Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt should solve outstanding issues over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) through dialogue. Kariuki made the remark on Thursday (June 24) during a discussion she had with Ethiopia’s ambassador to Kenya, Meles Alem. The minister further said negotiations over the GERD should ensure the equitable utilization of the Nile water resource.

Reiterating the catchall phrase “African solutions to African problems, ”President of Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune said Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt should resolve outstanding issues regarding the Grand Renaissance dam through African-led initiatives. The president made the remarks during a farewell ceremony held on Wednesday (June 24) to the departing Ethiopian Ambassador to Algeria, Ambassador Amin Abdulkadir.

Ethiopia has restated its position on its Grand Renaissance Dam through a letter to the United Nations Security Council. The announcement came after Egypt called the UNSC for the second time to intervene in the trilateral negotiations on GERD. In its letter to the UNSC, Ethiopia reiterated that the Grand Rennaissance Dam is not a threat to peace and security. And, Ethiopia expressed concern over Egypt’s second request to the UNSC after breaking down the trilateral talks on the dam. The Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew, thourgh his letter to the Security Council, reaffirmed that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will not cause any harm to downstream countries and pose peace and security threats. (See article)

In an interview with Al Jazeera Arabic broadcast on Friday (June 19), Gedu Andargachew, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia said Egypt had been playing an obstructive role in the tripartite GERD talks by intentionally advancing evasive and dubious agendas in many of the negotiation sessions. During the Tripartite talks that involve Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, the Minister said that the latter had been persistently trying to impose its interests on Ethiopia and Sudan. (See article)

Republics of Djibouti and Somalia and State of Qatar have defied Egypt’s Arab League Resolution that favors the hegemonic stance of it. The Arab League held its urgent meeting on Tuesday (June 23) on issues related to the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam and the standoff between Libya and Egypt. On the meeting Republic of Djibouti, Republic of Somalia and State of Qatar, member countries of the league, refused to obey the Arab League Resolution that supports Egypt in GERD cases.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Gedu Andargachew on Tuesday (June 23) held a phone conversation with his Italian counterpart, Luigi Di Maio on bilateral issues. During their discussions, the two ministers focused on ways of cementing the bilateral relations between their respective countries and consolidating mutual cooperation to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The two also exchanged views on developments of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia on Tuesday (June 23) commenced to give training to newly appointed ambassadors about the basics of Ethiopia’s Logistics system. Mekonnen Abera, Director-General of Ethiopian Maritime Affairs Authority (EMMA) offered the training covering topics, such as, the National Logistics System, the Logistics Policy, and the Blue Economy. Similar training will be offered by representatives of the Ethiopian Immigration and Nationality Affairs, and Ethiopian Airlines about the basic services of the institutions that the ambassadors are expected to be aware of.

The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Dina Mufti gave a briefing to the public regarding current circumstances surrounding the tripartite talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam by appearing on the Ethiopian Broadcast Corporation (EBC) on Tuesday (June 23). He highlighted the substantive and procedural errors Egypt has committed to submitting its letter of allegations against Ethiopia regarding the GERD issues. The spokesperson also explained what Ethiopia should do to counter the smear campaigns Egypt has waged on the media, the diplomatic circle, and stakeholders. (See article)

The Congressional Black Caucus issued a Statement on Tuesday (June 23) regarding the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. It encourages the continued cooperation and peaceful negotiations of all stakeholders in the construction of the GERD. (See article)

Intellectuals at home and abroad on Monday (June 22) held discussion on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project. Organized by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the main objective of the event is to reach common understanding and drive public mobilization on the project. Professor Hirut Woldemariam, Minister of Science and Higher Education, opened the discussion which saw presentations of various research papers.

A loan agreement amounting €117.3 million has been signed on Monday (June 22) between Ethiopia and the Danske Bank A/S for the 100MW Assela wind farm project. The agreement was signed by Ahmed Shide, Ethiopia’s Minister of Finance and Mr. Jelsper B. Petterson and Olaf S. Mark schet, Director and Associate Director of Danske Bank A/S, respectively.

The Ethiopian Public Health Institute has announced the start of nationwide testing for antibodies to the coronavirus as of today on Monday (June 22). According to a statement issued by the institute, the testing which aims to check infection rates and curb the spread of the virus, will last till July 14,2020. The testing will be carried out in all Ethiopia’s regional states as well as in the Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa city administrations, it added.

Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Gedu Andargachew has rejected Egypt’s call to refer the dispute over Addis Ababa’s construction of the giant Nile dam to the United Nations Security Council. “The issue with the dam can be solved right here instead of taking it to the UN Security Council. We believe this is not the mandate of the Security Council. This project is a developmental project. The precedent that this sets for the world in the future is very bad. It will also be not its (Security Council’s) mandate. This can also be considered as interfering in a sovereign nation’s peaceful activity. Therefore it is not right to do that”, Gedu told the Associated Press on Friday (June 19).

Eritrea

On the invitation of Sudan’s President of Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdel Fatah al Burhan, President Isaias Afwerki arrived in Khartoum on Thursday (June 24) for a three-day working visit. Presidential delegation includes Foreign Minister Osman Saleh and Presidential Adviser Yemane Gebreab. President Isaias Afwerki’s current visit to the Sudan will focus on enhancement of bilateral ties as well as consolidation of ongoing endeavours for regional cooperation and integration.

Djibouti

Ethiopia has donated medical equipment to Djibouti to help the east African nation fight against COVID-19 pandemic. Ethiopia’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Redwan Hussein, handed over the equipment to Djibouti’s Minister of Health in a ceremony held on Thursday (June 25) at Djibouti Ambouli International Airport. Ambassador Redwan said the donation shows that the two countries stand together not only in good times but also in cases where there is a disease outbreak like the coronavirus. Since the two countries share a common border, they should strengthen their solidarity in the fight against the pandemic and cement their bilateral cooperation in health and other sectors as well, he said. Last week, Ethiopia donated 15 tonnes of medical equipment worth half a million dollar to help Somalia fight against COVID-19 and other diseases.

Kenya

Kenya government on Saturday (June 20) revealed plans to reopen the Lamu section of the Kenya-Somalia border. In June last year, the government closed the border with Somalia, including the Kiunga cross-border point in Lamu to block routes used by smugglers, terrorists and human traffickers. Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said plans are now underway to allow the fishermen and traders, especially those dealing in miraa in the region, to resume their cross-border trade despite the border remaining closed.

You will not be required to have a Covid-19 free certificate to fly, as had been expected, but you must not show any fever or coronavirus symptoms before you board an aircraft for the country’s airports. This is part of the new protocols formulated by the Ministry of Transport and aviation players for air travel during the Covid-19 pandemic in preparation for the resumption of flights. The protocols come barely two weeks after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed their formulation, and set the stage for the reopening of the airspace for domestic flights. On Sunday (June 21) Transport Principal Secretary Samuel Kitungu toured the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to assess the measures the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) had put in place for the resumption of passenger operations.

Somalia

The World Bank has approved a $55 million dollar grant to support Somalia’s economic recovery through continued fiscal and other economic policy reforms. Hugh Riddell, World Bank country manager for Somalia said the policies will strengthen fiscal management and promote inclusive private sector-led growth. “The budget support will help protect lives and livelihoods and strengthen the capacity of Somali institutions to respond to the triple crisis of COVID-19 pandemic, locust invasion and flooding that threatens to derail Somalia’s reform program and its emergence from fragility,” Riddell said in a statement issued on Wednesday (June 24).

The Contingent Commander of Uganda troops serving under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Brig. Gen. Richard Otto last week on Thursday (June 18) visited Ugandan soldiers based in the coastal town of Baraawe in Lower Shabelle region, about 208 km from Mogadishu. Interacting with the soldiers in Baraawe, the headquarters of Uganda’s Battle Group Twenty-Nine (BG XXIX), Gen. Otto commended them for their discipline and reminded them of their core task to protect civilians, secure population centers and ensure peace and security.

UN Secretary-General welcomes the virtual meeting in Somalia held on Monday (June 22) between President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” and the Federal Member States’ leaders as an important step towards the resumption of dialogue and collaboration.  He calls on all stakeholders to continue to engage in dialogue to advance national priorities, which require political consensus and broad support.  The Secretary-General further urges the federal and state leaders to come together to jointly address the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UN Security Council on Monday (June 22) adopted a resolution to renew the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) until Aug. 31, 2020. Under Resolution 2527, UNSOM will continue to implement the mandate as set out in paragraph 1 of Resolution 2158 (2014), and further decides that UNSOM should continue to implement that mandate in accordance with Resolution 2461 (2019).

The UN top envoy in Somalia on Sunday (June 21) called for more international assistance to help the government to fight against COVID-19. James Swan, UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, said support provided by global partners has enabled Somalia to provide facilities for patient care in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “As friends and partners, we have been honored to help you and to stand by your side and to provide support,” Swan said in a statement issued after visiting De Martini Hospital in Mogadishu where he praised the efforts of healthcare workers.

South Sudan

The impact of COVID-19 risks undermining the fragile health system in South Sudan, causing the death of many more people from preventable health problems than the virus itself, said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, David Shearer. In a briefing to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday (June 23) David Shearer detailed the twin threat posed by COVID-19 and escalating conflict in the regions which could unravel the ceasefire.

Sudan

Sudan partnership conference held on Thursday (June 25) pledged $1.8 billion to support the transitional government in Khartoum to support its economic plan to implement economic reforms paving the way for its reintegration into the international financial system. The virtual event was attended by over 50 countries and regional and international organisations.

In related news, Germany said on Thursday (June 25) that it would contribute €150 million ($168 million) in aid to Sudan. The decision comes as part of a one-day donor teleconference hosted by Berlin and attended by several western governments, the UN Secretary-General, international financial institutions and wealthy Gulf oil producers.

The United States is hopeful of concluding during the upcoming weeks the process for Sudan’s removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism said Michael Pompeo, the Secretary of State. Pompeo made his remarks during a press conference on the release of the U.S. reports on terrorism on Wednesday (June 22).

For the past few days, the people of Darfur have been subjected to a great deal of suffering and unwarranted displacement due to  renewed eruption of fighting between two factions of the Sudan Liberation Army, Abdul Wahid Al-Nur Wing (SLA-AW) which resulted in killings, rape and the displacement of thousands of people from their villages and hamlets. In a statement issued on Wednesday (June 24), UNAMID stated its concern that the people who had carried arms to presumably fight for the cause and grievances of Darfuri people are now the very ones who are inflecting this untold suffering on them!

Prime Minister, Dr. Abdullah Hamdouk on Wednesday (June 24) received a delegation from the Sudanese Professionals Association, in context of government consultations on current issues and how to support the transitional period. The meeting has discussed a number of files related to the completion of the tasks of the transitional period and ways to achieve the goals of the revolution and the change.

The European Union has affirmed its stance at the same distance from the three countries currently negotiating on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which Sudan had hosted via video conference, but had to return to the file of negotiations on legal issues to the prime ministers of the three countries to try to reach an agreement on it. Head of the EU Mission in Sudan, Ambassador Robert van den Dool, said in a video press conference held on Monday (June 22) said: “With regard to the current situation in the talks on the GERD, the Union supports Sudan and has persuaded the concerned parties to sit and negotiate with each other directly, and to avoid the involvement of parties outside the region in these issues.”

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Ethiopia’s letter addressed to UN Security Council regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

22 June 2020

 

Excellency,

I regret to have to write another letter addressed to the Presidency in relation to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). I am compelled to do so in light of the letter sent by the Foreign Minister of Egypt on 19 June2020, requesting the intervention of the Security Council and erroneously portraying the GERD as a threat to international peace and security.

It might seem rather perplexing that Egypt is doing this while the tripartite negotiation is still ongoing. But we are not surprised at all, for it has been apparent for some time that Egypt had no intention of contributing to the success of the trilateral process. It has instead prioritized taking the matter to the Security Council – bypassing all regional mechanisms – with the view to internationalizing the GERD negotiations. But the hard facts are and this in its own admission, in the presence of observers, the tripartite negotiation has made notable progress over the last couple of weeks in addressing many of the technical issues on the first filling and annual operation of the Dam. The negotiation was only suspended because the Sudanese delegation sought to consult with its leadership.

Ethiopia expects to continue the negotiation to amicably resolve the remaining outstanding issues. It became difficult to move the negotiation process as quickly as we would have liked because of Egypt’s insistence on “historic rights and current use.” The notion of “historic rights and current use” is a reference to the 1959 colonial era Agreement between Egypt and the Sudan which divided the Nile waters between them, completely ignoring Ethiopia. Under this invalid and unfair deal, Egypt secured the Lion’s share of the Nile waters.

It is impossible to overlook Egypt’s disingenuous decision not to include a copy of the 1959 agreement in the annexes to its 19 June 2020 letter. Egypt knows that there is nothing more unilateral than apportioning the entire average annual flow of the Nile to Egypt and the Sudan at 55.5 and 18.5 billion cubic meters, respectively, excluding Ethiopia, which contributes 86 percent of the Nile waters. This, Excellency, is the crux of the matter and why we have not been able to achieve a breakthrough in the trilateral negotiation. In plain language, Egypt had made it a point to use the GERD negotiations to impel Ethiopia to endorse that unfair and unequal 1959 Agreement, which is anathema for Ethiopia, as it would be for any sovereign nation.

It is no accident that Egypt falsely accuses Ethiopia of not wanting to be bound by the guidelines and rules under negotiation. This comes from its latent motive of enforcing the guidelines as a water sharing agreement to block future upstream development. As we have made it abundantly clear, time and again, this is not a water sharing negotiation. If it were, then other riparian countries will have had every right to take part in the negotiation process since the three countries cannot decide on the rights of other riparian states. The ongoing negotiation is about addressing the concerns of downstream countries in relation to the GERD.

Ethiopia has been negotiating, in good faith, on the first filling and annual operation of the GERD. As the owner of the Dam, during long and painstaking negotiations on the guidelines and rules, Ethiopia has gone the extra mile in showing the necessary flexibility and compromise to narrow the differences. That is why there has been notable progress in the latest technical discussions. We have clearly indicated in the enclosed memorandum how much Ethiopia accommodated Egypt’s demands at the expense of the optimal operation of the GERD and its own benefit. Egypt on the other hand has not been willing and ready to engage in good faith negotiations to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. It has instead been engaged in a dual-track approach – participating in the tripartite negotiation and making its case, while at the same time trying to scuttle the process so that it could bring the issue to the Security Council to exert unhelpful political and diplomatic pressure on Ethiopia. This whole effort has been calculated to mislead the Security Council. What is tragic is that this malicious mindset is not only bound to undermine the trust and confidence between the two countries, which is so critical for moving forward, but it will also have serious implications for the whole trilateral negotiation process which, Ethiopia believes, is the appropriate framework for addressing issues related to the GERD.

Ethiopia will abide by and faithfully implement the guidelines and rules on the annual operation of the GERD once an agreement is reached. However, it will not constrain its right to use the Nile waters for future development by the guidelines and rules or the quantified obligations contained therein.

Excellency,

I must also state frankly that Egypt’s unilateral decision to bring this matter to the Security Council is contrary to the letter and spirit of the Declaration of Principles (Dop) that the leaders of the three countries signed on25 March 2015. The DoP clearly sets out how the three countries should settle disputes through consultation or negotiation in accordance with the principle of good faith, failing which they may jointly request for conciliation, mediation or refer the matter for the consideration of their Heads of State and Government. It is also worth mentioning that we have our regional and continental mechanisms in place, and we have the possibility to resort to those in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity and with the spirit of finding African solutions to African problems. We have not yet exhausted all these options.

It is our firm conviction that finalizing the ongoing tripartite process based on transparency and good faith is the best way forward in resolving the outstanding issues. That is why we believe Egypt went overboard in requesting the involvement of the Security Council by falsely claiming that the issue constitutes a threat to international peace and security. Nothing can be fuither from the truth, Ethiopia is building the GERD to meet the dire needs of its people and it is well within its sovereign rights to do so. It needs no reminding concerning its international obligations. Its track record speaks for itself as a founding member of the United Nations and its role and contributions over the past seventy-five years in upholding the principles and purposes of the U.N. Charter.

Ethiopia finds it extremely hypocritical that Egypt continues to accuse Ethiopia of undertaking “unilateral measures.” Needless to say, unilateralism is not in Ethiopia’s national character or foreign policy practice. As I indicated in my previous letter, it was Egypt that built the High Aswan Dam without consulting Ethiopia. It was Egypt that ignored Ethiopia’s protests in the years 1956, 1957, 1980 and 1997, objecting to the significant harm its water infrastructure would cause to Ethiopia and other Nile riparian states. It was also Egypt that decided to direct the Nile out of its natural course through the Peace and Toshka canals. Furthermore, it was Egypt that eventually rejected the region wide cooperative framework on the Nile River that was a result of decade-long dialogue and negotiation among the basin countries. I have enclosed herewith for your reference the relevant historical documents, including copies of the protest letters by Ethiopia, the unfair and unjust 1959 agreement signed by Egypt and the Sudan, as well as the Cooperative Framework Agreement (CFA).

Ethiopia is not taking any unilateral measures. We are spending so much time and energy engaging in the tripartite negotiation process to reach a mutually beneficial outcome. We believe we have come a long way in addressing most of the outstanding technical issues, but we still have some work to do in nanowing the gaps on the legal issues. This requires the parties to demonstrate political will and commitment to finding amicable solution and show the necessary flexibility and compromise to achieve a win-win outcome. Ethiopia has been and will continue to demonstrate this in the negotiation and it is incumbent on the other parties to do the same. But if the negotiations are discontinued because Egypt wants to secure its maximalist demands by exerting political and diplomatic pressure, there is no reason why Ethiopia should take the blame for that.

Finally, I want to once again emphasize that the GERD does not cause significant harm to both Egypt and the Sudan. It is a hydroelectric Dam and the water stored in its Reservoir flows to the downstream countries after hitting the turbines. The dam is a national project which is designed to help extricate our people from abject poverty and is by no means a threat to peace and security, justifying the invocation of the mandate of the Security Council under Article 35 of the Charter’ Egypt knows this fact very well but it is trying to politicize the issue to maintain its hegemonic status-quo over the Nile waters. In this day and age, this is untenable.

If there is in fact any threat to peace and security, in connection with the GERD, the responsible party would be Egypt, which has been engaged in saber-rattling and bellicose threats to use force. It is our hope that the Council would not be misled by Egypt’s misrepresentation of the facts surrounding the construction of the GERD. Moreover, we also trust that it would reject Egypt’s unwarranted demands which are designed to ensure that the unequal, colonial-era arrangements on the Nile remain unchanged and unaltered. It is this mindset which has been the main obstacle to achieving a negotiated outcome on the GERD. The Security Council should not give, even inadvertently, succor to a state which has so far abhorred a just, fair and a win-win outcome which is the only means of ensuring sustainable peace and security.

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration

Gedu Andargachew

Minister

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The Congressional Black Caucus Statement on the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

WASHINGTON, June 23, 2020

In recent months negotiations have stalled and there has been an escalation of tensions on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that impacts, Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan.  The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) encourages the continued cooperation and peaceful negotiations of all stakeholders in the construction of the GERD. These negotiations should be based on mutual benefit, good faith, and the principles of international law. The multi-billion-dollar GERD project was announced in 2011, and will have a positive impact in the region by providing Africa’s biggest hydropower dam that will generate approximately 6,000 megawatts of electricity, thus allowing Ethiopia to export power to neighboring countries.

The Congressional Black Caucus urges the United States and all other international actors to respect the 2015 Declaration of Principles trilateral agreement signed between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia, and to continue to play an impartial role, only seeking the counsel of the African Union and diplomats on the ground in the region. In particular, the African Union has a pivotal role to play by expressing to all parties that a peaceful negotiated deal benefits all and not just some on the continent.

The GERD project directly affects the flow of water, the supply of energy, and the food security of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan. Recently, the region’s agriculture sector has suffered due to abnormal precipitation droughts. With Egypt’s rapidly growing population nearing 100 million, the GERD will help improve water supply and take pressure off the Nile river, which supplies an overwhelming majority of the country’s fresh water. In Ethiopia, the country is currently facing a drought that is expected to directly impact nearly 20 percent of its population combined with a locust outbreak that has eaten more than 80,000 acres of crops in recent months. In Sudan, the GERD dam will contribute to the country’s water regulation and sediment reduction, and expand agricultural projects, increase hydropower production, and provide flood control.

The GERD project will have a positive impact on all countries involved and will help combat food security and lack of electricity and power, supply more fresh water to more people, and stabilize and grow the economies in the region. The Congressional Black Caucus supports a peaceful negotiation to the implementation of the GERD project, and stands ready to support the African Union and all stakeholders on peacefully achieving a mutually beneficial agreement.

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FM Gedu: Egypt has been Obstructive in the Tripartite Talks over the GERD

In an interview with Al Jazeera Arabic broadcast on Friday (June 19), Gedu Andargachew, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia said Egypt had been playing an obstructive role in the tripartite GERD talks by intentionally advancing evasive and dubious agendas in many of the negotiation sessions. During the Tripartite talks that involve Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt, the Minister said that the latter had been persistently trying to impose its interests on Ethiopia and Sudan.

Responding to the question that highlighted Egypt’s efforts to establish a military base in neighboring countries and challenge Ethiopia’s security, Gedu said such an attempt is a pipe dream; since Ethiopia has established a strong and fraternal relationship with its neighbors. The Minister further said that Ethiopia and its neighbours-Sudan, Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, and Eritrea-have been busy creating a strong regional economic integration that further cements relations and nullifies self-destructive activities that endanger each other’s securities. Taking these things into consideration, Gedu said: ‘’I do not believe our neighbors would move to threat Ethiopia’s commitment to establishing a peaceful coexistence by taking sides with Egypt.’’

Regarding the recent border dispute alongside Ethiopia and Sudan borders, Gedu said that the problem is an age-old one which has usually been triggered by the quest from farmers for acquiring farmlands. He said the two countries are working jointly to solve the problem and it will not affect the relationship between Ethiopia and Sudan that has been growing stronger than ever. The minister added that Egypt’s media has been engaged with destructive propaganda to use the occasion as a chance to jeopardize the enduring relations between the two countries. Being silent on the Hala’ib Triangle issue between Egypt and Sudan, it is surprising to see the Egyptian media to dwell on some incidents in the borderlines of Ethiopia and Sudan, Gedu said. This shows the hypocrisy of the Egyptian media which picks out small incidents and makes a big thing out of them, he added.

The minister concluded the interview expressing his strong belief that the Nile should be a major source of cooperation rather than conflict.

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Spokesperson Ambassador Dina Gives Briefings on Current Circumstances Surrounding the Tripartite Talks

The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Dina Mufti gave a briefing to the public regarding current circumstances surrounding the tripartite talks over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam by appearing on the Ethiopian Broadcast Corporation (EBC) on Tuesday (June 23). He highlighted the substantive and procedural errors Egypt has committed to submitting its letter of allegations against Ethiopia regarding the GERD issues. The spokesperson also explained what Ethiopia should do to counter the smear campaigns Egypt has waged on the media, the diplomatic circle, and stakeholders.

Regarding the latest move of Egypt in submitting a letter to the Security Council, the spokesperson reiterated that Egypt has been accustomed to moving in evasive and dubious ways to meet its objectives regarding the dam. ‘’They have had submitted a letter to the Security Council prior to their latest appeal to the same UN organ,’’ said Ambassador Dina, adding, ‘’what makes their latest appeal different is that it is done in the middle of the latest round of the tripartite talks over the GERD.’’ The talks were almost successful regarding technical issues, although legal issues were remaining to be solved, he added. He further said that although the Egyptians submitted their letter to the Security Council in the middle of the negotiation, Ethiopia is still in its good faith that the tripartite talks are the viable option to solve outstanding issues over the dam.

The Ambassador said filing charges against Ethiopia before the conclusion of the tripartite talks is a testament to the lack of good faith from the Egyptian side regarding the possible outcomes of the tripartite talks. ‘’What is surprising is that it was only in the second day of the latest round of the tripartite talks that Egypt’s spokesperson to the Ministry of Water Affairs issued a statement declaring that the tripartite negotiation has failed,’’ he added.

Regarding Ethiopia’s response to the Egyptians allegations in their letter submitted to the Security Council, the Spokesperson said the contents included in Ethiopia’s letter are derived from the provisions stated in the ‘Declarations of Principles’ (DoP) that was signed in 2015 by all parties in the tripartite talks. According to the DoP, if any dispute arises in the tripartite talks, it is only through the signatory parties’ unanimous agreement that a third party is invited as a mediator, he added. ‘’So a unilateral action, as Egypt did, is not acceptable.’’ The Spokesperson further said that Ethiopia’s response to the Egyptian letter highlighted that Ethiopia takes the tripartite talks seriously and in good faith; while Egypt is portraying a picture that does not represent the spirit of the talks at all.

Ambassador Dina also expressed his hope that the Security Council would take commendable measures by correctly analyzing the trends in the previous tripartite talks and the possible outcomes of the talks in the future. ‘’The Security Council usually dwells on issues that pose an imminent danger to the security of the world,’’ said the Ambassador. ‘’ The GERD issue at this point in time is not a threat to the security of the world.’’  Although Ethiopia honestly believes that the GERD issues and the tripartite talks would get resolve peacefully with a win-win solution for all, Egypt continues to beat war drums and threatens Ethiopia for a use of force, he said. ‘’Egyptians have been everywhere- in Africa, the Arab countries including the United States of America- carrying the same message that they have submitted to the Security Council. The response that they got was the same-to resolve outstanding issues over the GERD through the tripartite talks,’’ he said. ‘’I hope the Security Council would consider the procedural and substantive errors that the Egyptians committed to submitting such a letter and decide all sides to resume the tripartite talks.’’

In explaining Ethiopia’s communication strategy concerning issues surrounding the GERD and what Ethiopia should do in countering Egypt’s propaganda, the Ambassador said:  ‘’First and foremost we have to make every Ethiopian stand by the GERD cause.’’ Aside from this, we have to clarify every foggy issue about the tripartite talks and matters related to the filling and operation of the dam to stakeholders, he added. He said: ‘’One of the stakeholders that deserve such a clarification is the people of Egypt who have been bewildered by confusing and often times misleading information.’’

The communication strategy should also be crafted taking African and European countries into account too, he said. ‘’We have to pinpoint fallacious claims from the Egyptian side and tell the world the truth, said Ambassador Dina, ‘’And the truth is that Ethiopia needs the dam for electrification and development purposes and the project will not significantly harm the flow of water to Egypt.’’  Ethiopia has to tell the world that there has never been a bad intention to compromise the benefits that Egypt is getting from the Nile basin, he said, adding that the world should understand that the building of the dam actually benefits both Egypt and Sudan.

Besides debunking Egypt’s misleading propaganda that creates a bad image in the Arab world regarding the dam, Ethiopia should strive to make its points clear that the building of the dam is a cause for cooperation than conflict, Ambassador Dina added. In concluding his message, the Spokesperson said:  ‘’All Ethiopians, including, the media, Civil Society, educational institutions, renowned Ethiopians and the government should tell Ethiopia’s truth about the dam and persistently strive to clarify foggy issues that are intentionally created by Egypt to mislead the public at large.’’

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