Over the weekend, after long interval , the virtual tripartite talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) was held and led by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the AU Executive Council.
Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Ministers of Water Affairs of Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan took part in the GERD talks on 03 January 2021.
Indeed, all the ministers had their say in the continuation of the trilateral negotiation focusing on a draft document presented by the experts assigned by the Chairperson of the African Union.
As usual , Ethiopia has appreciated the efforts of the experts in preparing the draft document and reaffirmed its willingness to make use of the document as an input for the trilateral negotiation.
By the same token, Sudan expressed its readiness to use the document for the progress of the negotiation apart from proceeding the negotiation with a defined role of the AU experts. Egypt, however, categorically rejected the document.
Obviously Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan do not have differences on most of the issues related to the initial filling and annual operation of the GERD. But, all have different views on the co-relations between the GERD Guidelines and Rules and the future water development projects on the Abay Basin.
On several occasions, Ethiopia has expressed its stance loud and clear to downstream countries that Ethiopia will not agree to a GERD deal that will in any way restrict its right to use the Nile waters.
It is crystal clear to Egypt and Sudan that the GERD talks are being conveyed in the absence of a comprehensive water treaty and the prevalence of an unjust status-quo as well. Therefore, both countries have to take into accounts these fundamental factors.
It is a great diplomatic achievement for Ethiopia as the downstream countries have finally come to their senses in recognizing GERD as a non-consumptive hydroelectric generating dam.
With no shred of doubt, from the very day Ethiopia has been far more committed to concluding the GERD talks in good faith via reaching a win -win solution.
Accordingly, Ethiopia has forwarded alternative approaches to Egypt and Sudan, which is hoped to garner their affirmative response.
In the coming week, the trilateral meetings will continue at expert's level with oversight of ministers of water affairs, to take stock of agreed and outstanding issues to be presented to the six ministers meeting that is expected to be held on Sunday the 10th of January 2021.
In general, Ethiopia is expected to consolidate its diplomatic gains in so far held GERD talks using the exhaustively all diplomatic approaches to settle the GERD issues for good while safeguarding its national interests under any circumstances.
The Ethiopian herald January 5/2021