Ethiopian Diplomatic Campaign to ‘Spread Awareness' About GERD Reality

  • 24/02/2021
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Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed answers questions by parliament members on Friday, February 19, 2021. (AP)

Cairo- Mohammed Abdu Hassanein

Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry seeks through a broad diplomatic campaign to spread global awareness about the reality of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which has raised tension with Egypt and Sudan.

Addis Ababa relies on the newly appointed ambassadors to spread global awareness about the GERD reality and falsify misleading information, a foreign ministry statement said.

Seven newly-appointed ambassadors and five mission leaders have been trained during the past two weeks to address various issues, including the GERD dispute.

Creating awareness about the GERD’s fair use is one of the newly appointed officials’ tasks, according to the Director-General of Human Resources Development at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

There has been some misleading information about the reality of the mega-dam, the official noted.

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry seeks to “replace the wrong rhetoric on filling and operating the dam with the correct one,” he added.

Addis Ababa has been constructing the dam since 2011. The construction process has reached 78.3 percent, a jump from 74 percent in June 2020, according to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Energy, and Irrigation.

Cairo and Khartoum stress the need to reach a binding and comprehensive agreement that guarantees the rights and interests of the three countries and includes a mechanism for settling disputes on the filling and operation of the dam.

They fear the potential negative impact of GERD on the flow of their annual share of the Nile’s 55.5 billion cubic meters of water.

For years now, Egypt has been seeking to ensure the support of the major powers in the conflict with Ethiopia on the GERD.

In May 2020, it brought the matter to the UN Security Council. Cairo aimed to have the votes of the Council members in favor of a balanced resolution protecting its “water rights” in the face of Addis Ababa.

The African Union (AU) has been sponsoring the so far faltered talks between Cairo, Addis Ababa, and Khartoum since July 2020, despite the intervention of international actors such as the United States and the European Union with observers.

Authorities started filling the reservoir on July 21, 2020. However, the completion of the first filling phase prior to reaching an agreement with Egypt and Sudan irked both countries.

The dam is expected to hold 13.5 billion cubic meters of water in the upcoming rainy season, Ethiopia announced.

The Egyptian-Ethiopian diplomatic dispute coincided with a remarkable change in the American position on this matter.

The US State Department has recently announced canceling the decision to suspend economic and military aids to Ethiopia, issued by former President Donald Trump, due to the dispute over the GERD.

Last year, the US halted nearly $272 million in US foreign assistance to Ethiopia, which was described as intransigent, to pressure Addis Ababa into reaching an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum

Ethiopia refused to sign a final agreement on the rules of filling and operating the dam earlier in 2020, under the auspice of the US and World Bank.

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