Egypt, Ethiopia negotiating positions on US mediated talks on GERD

APA-Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)

Ethiopian negotiating team on GERD said it did not give away national interest of the country as reports said Egypt was in a weak negotiating position during the latest US mediated talks on filling and operations the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Egppt found itself in a weak negotiating position with little outside support and is coming under pressure to agree to a less than favorable deal, a Egyptian delegation in Washington said.

The official on described the negotiations as a “disaster” as the talks proceeded on Tuesday.

Another official source confirmed that the talks were not going well and that the Trump administration was pressuring Egypt to accept the minimum conditions in order to finalize a deal. 

Briefing  journalists after the tripartite talks in Washington DC, Ethiopian Foreign Minister Gedu Andargachew said the latest talks ended  in favor of Ethiopia as opposed to information trending in social media.

The agreement was reached with out compromising the national interest of Ethiopia and causing significant harm on down stream countries, he said

Ethiopian Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy Dr. Engineer Sileshi Bekele said the joint statement released by the US Secretary of Treasury is subject to change depending on final agreement. 

The negotiations were ended with no diminishing return to Ethiopia Sileshi said adding observers have had nothing role but watching, listening and taking notes.

Based on the latest technical agreement, the filling time of the GERD will take place during rainy season and that created concern among the Ethiopian public over the filling time.

Sileshi said, the filling period of the dam will be done from 4 to 7 years even though it is to be carried out in July and August during which Nile river surges both in volume and intensity.  

Dr, Engineer Sileshi said the GERD can retain as much water during rainy season because there is excess water during those months depending on the climatic conditions in the northern central and western part of the country.

He said the GERD’s reservoir will hold 49 billion cubic meters of water and that can be retained in four years when there is accelerated water flow or it will take up to seven years depending water volume of the Nile.  

The very idea of building GERD is to retain excess water that otherwise could be wasted during rainy seasons. Ethiopia will use the retained water for power generation regularly through out the year and then release to down stream countries in regulated manner so that Sudan and Egypt will get reasonable volume of water through the year, the minister said.

In the latest talks, Ethiopia agreed to release 37 billion cubic meters of water to down stream countries during dry season. The volume of water Ethiopia should release during dry season was a contentious issue as Egypt demanded to get 40 billion cubic meter of water as  Ethiopia proposed 35 billion cubic meters of water.

According to the minster, two turbines will be operational end of this year after the GERD holds 4.95 billion cubic meters water. These two turbines will be fixed at 545 meters above sea level and become operations while the height of the water in the dam reaches 565 meters above sea level. 

The remaining turbines will be fixed at 545 meters above sea level and will be operational as the water level in the dam reaches at least 595 above sea level.

As per the latest agreement, Ethiopia will release at least 31 billion cubic meters of water to down stream countries in case of occurrence of sever drought. 

Legal experts of the three countries will develop the technical agreement reached by water ministers of the three countries into legal document which will be table for discussion by their foreign ministers in January 28 and 29, 2020 in Washington DC.


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