PM Abiy responds to Trump’s comments on the GERD

28 Oct 2020

The GERD is an affirmation of Ethiopia’s commitment to
equitable and reasonable utilisation of the Abbay River

During a televised announcement confirming that Sudan and Israel had normalised relations on 23rd October, President Trump suggested that “They’ll [Egypt] blow up that dam [Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam], and they have to do something…They should have stopped it long before it was started.”

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks on the phone with leaders of Israel and Sudan in the Oval Office

In the call, President Trump also reiterated that he is holding up U.S. assistance to Ethiopia to pressure the Ethiopian government to agree to his administration’s preferred deal.

In a statement released shortly after President Trump’s remarks, the Prime Minister’s Office said, Ethiopia “will not cave in to aggressions of any kind.”

The statement goes on to say:

“From its very inception, the GERD has been an attempt to answer what has been our generation’s quest for an equitable and reasonable utilisation of the Abbay and other rivers contributing to Nile from Ethiopia. 85% of the Nile flow originates from Ethiopia. It is an inflection point where a nation and its proud people stopped lamenting the past and toiled to achieve what once seemed impossible. A great milestone was reached last August 2020 when the first phase of the water filling was completed before the end of Ethiopia’s winter rainy season.”

“Parallel to this construction work, Ethiopia has expressed its abiding commitment to cooperation on the Nile, based on mutual trust and the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization of the River. The negotiation with the lower riparian states has shown significant progress since the AU was seized of the matter, a manifestation of Africa’s capability to respond to its own problems. Nonetheless, belligerent threats to have Ethiopia succumb to unfair terms still abound but affronts to Ethiopian sovereignty are misguided, unproductive, and clear violations of international law.”

“As a developing nation, Ethiopia may be confronted with poverty, but we are rich with history, patriotic citizens whose commitment to defend their country’s sovereignty is unparalleled and an ambition and a well-articulated plan for prosperity. Ethiopia will not cave in to aggressions of any kind, nor do we give recognition to a right that is entirely based on colonial treaties.”

We still wish to reiterate our commitment to a peaceful resolution of the GERD matter based on cooperation, non-interference, mutual trust and the principle of equitable and reasonable utilisation.

…US Ambassador to Ethiopia summoned

On 24th October, H.E. Gedu Andargachew, Ethiopia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs summoned the US Ambassador H.E. Mike Raynor to seek clarifications on the remarks made by President Trump regarding the GERD.

Minister Gedu underscored that President Trump’s statement on the GERD and the negotiation process was misleading and wrong, as the GERD does not stop the flow of the Nile waters.

Minister Gedu added that:

“the incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt from a sitting US president neither reflects the longstanding partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States nor is acceptable in International Law governing interstate relations.”

“Ethiopia has never, and will not in the future, succumb to threats to its sovereignty and will be committed to continue the trilateral negotiations under the framework of the African Union,” the Minister added.

…EU support for the negotiation process

A statement released by the High Representative, Josep Borrell, said:  “Over 250 million citizens of the Blue Nile Basin stand to benefit from a predictable agreement based on a negotiated arrangement for the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and are expecting investments in water security, irrigation, agricultural production and electricity generation.”

“An agreement on the filling of the GERD is within the reach of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt. Now is the time for action and not for increasing tensions. The efforts of South Africa, current Chair of the African Union, to bring the parties to a negotiated solution have the full support of the European Union which looks forward to the imminent resumption  and successful conclusion of the talks.”

…Resumption of trilateral negotiations

The trilateral negotiations on the filling and operation of the GERD resumed on 27th October, when a virtual meeting was held between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Water Affairs of Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt, under the chairmanship of the African Union.

Resumption of the talks follows extensive consultations with the Heads of State of the GERD negotiation parties, which include Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi; and Sudan Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chair of the African Union, welcomed the commitment by the parties to pursue negotiations guided by the spirit of cooperation, goodwill and compromise, with a view to reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.

As of 1st November, a week-long negotiation was taking place between the three countries and representatives from the African Union, the European Union and World Bank.

…GERD 76% complete

The Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Energy (MoWIE) said that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project is 76.35% complete.

Briefing journalists, Dr Seleshi Bekele, Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy said performance of the project increased by 2.5% to 76.35% in the first quarter owing to efforts made to enable the dam to start generating power with two turbines, which will begin generating power this fiscal year (2020/2021).

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