FILE: Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry
CAIRO – 7 March 2020: The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Friday in which it rejected the Ethiopian foreign ministry’s statement on the Arab League stance on Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) altogether.
The Arab League council voiced rejection Wednesday of any infringement of Egypt’s historical rights to the waters of the River Nile.
This came at the end of the 153rd session of the Arab League Council, which kicked off on March 4 at the foreign ministerial level.
Here is the full statement of the Egyptian foreign ministry:
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt categorically rejects the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia on March 6th, 2020 on the resolution adopted by the Council of the League of Arab States on Wednesday March 4th, 2020 on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
This statement is inappropriate, undiplomatic, and constitutes an unacceptable affront to the Arab League and its member states. The fact that the Arab League adopted a resolution calling on Ethiopia to respect the applicable rules of international law and not to undertake unilateral measures that could harm Egyptian riparian rights and interests is a testament to the extent to which Ethiopia unilaterally considers its interests not only as superseding, but also superior to, the collective interests of the sovereign states of the Arab League which it seeks to suppress.
This resolution adopted by the Arab League reflects dismay and discontent at Ethiopia’s track record throughout the endless rounds of negotiations on the GERD, particularly since the conclusion of the 2015 Agreement on Declaration of Principles (DoP).
Ethiopia’s posture and position during these negotiations, which has been criticized by the Arab League, evinces its intent to exercise hydro-hegemony and to anoint itself as the unchallenged and sole beneficiary over the Nile. This is especially apparent in its insistence on filling the GERD unilaterally in July 2020 without reaching an agreement with downstream states, and while holding negotiations on the GERD hostage to domestic political considerations. This constitutes a material breach of the DoP and demonstrates, beyond any doubt, Ethiopia’s bad faith and its lack of political will to reach a fair and balanced agreement on the GERD.
Nowhere is this true nature of Ethiopia’s position more apparent than in the fact that it failed to accept an agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD that was prepared by neutral and impartial mediators, namely the United States in coordination with the World Bank. In a show of political support, the Arab League welcomed and endorsed this agreement and invited Ethiopia to revisit its position and reconsider signing this agreement.
Given its policies during the GERD negotiations, Ethiopia is in no position to lecture the Arab League or its member states on the common values, cultural ties, and bonds of kinship between the Arab and African peoples, which are not the purview of Ethiopia to define.
Ethiopia’s policy on the GERD is a further assertion of the unilateral nature of its regional conduct that has resulted in continuing harm and suffering for multitudes of our African brethren. We, therefore, urge the international community to join the Arab League in taking cognizance of Ethiopia’s continuing defiance and unilateralism, which threatens to undermine regional stability and security. We also call on Ethiopia to affirm its commitment not to commence the filling of the GERD without an agreement and to accept the agreement prepared by the neutral mediators.
A balanced, win-win solution is at hand and the opportunity to chart a new course and redraw the history of the Blue Nile is within our grasp."