CAIRO: The EU has offered its expertise to help resolve the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) impasse after the bloc’s member countries expressed dissatisfaction at unilateral decisions taken by Ethiopia in relation to the project, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry has revealed.
He said that the EU was ready to step in and mediate between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia to reach an agreement over the operation of the dam.
The huge construction project on the Blue Nile is 80 percent complete and the dam was expected to reach full generating capacity in 2023, making it Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant and the world’s seventh largest, according to Ethiopia’s state media.
In televised statements, Shoukry said European foreign ministers were now fully up to speed on the issue.
Egypt and Sudan have urged the UN Security Council to undertake “preventive diplomacy” and call for a legally binding agreement to resolve the dispute with Ethiopia over the availability of Nile water for the downstream countries. But Ethiopia has insisted the matter can be dealt with by the African Union, the Associated Press reported.
The Ethiopian government claims the dam is crucial to the country’s economic development and energy provision, but Egypt views it as a threat to its Nile water supplies, on which it is almost entirely dependent. Sudan has expressed concerns about the dam’s safety and impact on its own dams and water stations.
Shoukry said the EU was keen to work with the three nations and present them with its proposals to resolve the issue, adding that in the event of a consensus among UN member countries on a draft resolution submitted by Egypt and Sudan, it would be put to a UN Security Council vote.
The Egyptian minister noted that he asked the EU foreign ministers to understand the nature of the issue for Egypt and to work on persuading Ethiopia to show flexibility.
Shoukry said: “We are following up on the proposals that will be presented by the African Union, and I asked the European side to understand that the Nile River water is an existential issue for Egypt.”
He pointed out that Egypt would take the necessary steps and decisions at the appropriate time and was working “to achieve stability and security and defend the interests of the Egyptian people without any complacency.”
He added that Egypt and Sudan were coordinating over a return to negotiations.
Shoukry affirmed Egypt’s appreciation of a recent EU statement which criticized Ethiopia’s announcement to start the second filling of the dam without reaching an agreement with the downstream countries.