ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia has rejected the Resolution of the League of Arab States that calls for the United Nations Security Council to intervene in a dispute over a giant dam built by Ethiopia on the Blue Nile.
The resolution came after the league’s executive committee meeting on Tuesday in Qatar, called by Egypt and Sudan.
In a statement today, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “Ethiopia rejects the resolution in its entirety”.
This for the second time the League has sided with the Sudan and Egypt on the GERD.
“As a result of its egregious support to the baseless claims of Egypt and the Sudan regarding the GERD, the League of Arab States has already squandered its opportunity to play a constructive role,” the ministry said.
The latest resolution echos Cairo and Khartoum recent attempts to involve the United States, European Union and the UN in the African Union-led negotiation – a position rejected by Ethiopia.
Speaking about the decision during a press briefing, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said water security of Egypt and Sudan as an integral part of Arab national security.
“There is a united Arab position,” added Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman during the same briefing, saying the Arab States had agreed on “steps to be taken gradually” to support Egypt and Sudan in the dispute.
In a response, Ethiopia said the resolution is a part of futile attempts to internationalize and politicize the dam.
“It should be abundantly clear that futile attempts like this to internationalize and politicize the GERD will not lead to sustainable regional cooperation in the utilization and management of the Nile,” its foreign ministry said.
“The League of Arab States should know that utilization of the Nile waters is also an existential matter for Ethiopia,” the ministry said.
Ethiopia sees the dam as necessary for its drive to lift millions of its people out of poverty and meeting their energy, water and food security demands.
The ministry said Ethiopia is exercising its legitimate right to use its water resources in full respect for international water laws and the principle of causing no significant harm.
It also said the country “firmly believes” that it is only through cooperation and dialogue that the water security of any of the Nile Basin states can be achieved.
“The Nile is a shared resource and not an exclusive property of Egypt and the Sudan,” the statement said.
The resolution has perplexed Ethiopian officials who say it “emphasis on the water security of the two downstream countries in complete disregard to the interest of the rest of the Nile riparian states, which are the sources of the river”.
It also demonstrates the organization’s “unhelpful and misguided approach towards the Nile issue,” according to the Ministry.
From the outset, the government of Ethiopia said it has done “everything possible to accommodate the concerns” of the two downstream countries in good faith.
“It is the intransigence of both Egypt and the Sudan, which has made it extremely difficult to make any meaningful progress in the tripartite negotiation,” the statement reads.
During the South African-led negotiation, it was Egypt and the Sudan that disrupted the negotiations seven times, according to the Ministry.
Despite the efforts by the currency Chairperson of African Union to restart the trilateral negotiations at the meeting held in Kinshasa from 3-5 April 2021, Egypt and Sudan “deliberately undermined the possibility of agreeing on a roadmap for the continuation of the negotiations”, it said.
Ethiopia agreed to seven of the nine proposals contained in the draft communiqué prepared by the DRC, while Egypt and Sudan rejected the substantive parts of the communiqué.
“The two countries worked in concert to ensure the failure of the Kinshasa meeting by raising unrelated procedural issues,” Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry said.
“It is, therefore, regrettable that the League of Arab States decided to take a position on the AU-led negotiation without verifying the facts”.
The tripartite negotiation between Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan are guided by the Declaration of Principles (DoP), which the leaders of the three countries signed in 2015.
The filling of the GERD will be conducted as per the plan in accordance with the DoP and the recommendation of the research group composed of experts from the three countries, the Ministry said.
“Hence, Ethiopia categorically rejects the futile attempt by the League of Arab States to dictate terms regarding the filling of the GERD,” it said.
Sticks with AU-Led talks
The Government also criticised the latest attempt by Egypt and the Sudan to “unnecessarily politicize the GERD negotiation and try to make it an Arab issue”.
“This clearly shows their lack of fidelity to the AU-led tripartite process,” it noted.
Ethiopia sees the GERD as an African issue, which needs an African solution.
“The disagreement between Ethiopia, Egypt and the Sudan can only be resolved through good faith negotiation and compromise in the spirit of finding African solutions to African problems,” the Ministry said. “It is precisely because of this reason that the United Nations Security Council referred the matter to the African Union.”
“Therefore, the League of Arab States should desist from making such unhelpful statements, which will only serve to antagonize the relations between the three countries and undermine the tripartite negotiation,” Addis Ababa said.
The ministry also advised the League to encourage Egypt and the Sudan to engage “in good faith negotiation to find a win-win solution and lend its full support to the ongoing AU-led process in this regard”.
“Once again, Ethiopia reaffirms its commitment to the Declaration of Principles and remains fully engaged in the AU-led tripartite negotiation process to find a mutually beneficial outcome on the GERD issue,” the statement concludes.