Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry discussed latest regional developments, including the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and updates on the coronavirus pandemic, with his Estonian counterpart Urmas Reinsalu on Wednesday, the Egyptian foreign ministry said.
According to ministry statements, Shoukry discussed in the call received from Reinsalu efforts to curb the Covid-19 outbreak, especially international cooperation and coordination to exchange expertise. In the phone call, the Egyptian foreign minister discussed Egyptian views on the situation in the Middle East.
For his part, Reinsalu expressed his aspiration for cooperation with Egypt, especially as Estonia is currently a member of the UN Security Council and will head the council in May, asserting that his country is ready to discuss issues of common interest between the two countries, the foreign ministry said in its statement.
Shoukry and Reinaslu also discussed latest developments concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Egyptian foreign minister mentioned a letter sent by Egypt to the president of the Security Council 1 May, about GERD after the failure of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to reach to an agreement on its filing and operation in the latest round of talks in the United States earlier this year.
The letter details the stages the GERD issue has passed since its beginning and the actions and positions taken by Egypt in accordance with international law.
In the letter, it is revealed that on 10 April 2020, the Ethiopian prime minister sent a letter to the president of Egypt and the prime minister of Sudan proposing they agree to an Ethiopian plan for the execution of the first stage of the filling of GERD. That plan was not shared with Egypt or Sudan. On 15 April 2020, Egypt’s president sent a message to the Ethiopian premier stating Egypt’s unwavering commitment to concluding beneficial agreement on GERD, reaffirming that the 2015 Declaration of Principles obliges the three countries to work towards a comprehensive agreement to regulate both the filing and operation of the dam.
The letter called on the international community to ask Ethiopia to respect its international legal obligations to the 2015 Declaration of Principles and to reconsider its position and to accept the agreement on the filing and operation of the dam initiated by Egypt in February 2020.
Tensions have been building between Egypt and Ethiopia over technical details regarding the operation and filling of the dam, which is under construction near Ethiopia s border with Sudan. Ethiopia hopes that the massive $4.8 billion project on the Blue Nile will allow it to become Africa’s largest power exporter.
Egypt, which is downstream from the dam, fears that the project will diminish its share of Nile water, on which it is almost entirely reliant for fresh water.
Last November, the US stepped in to host negotiations after Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia announced that talks on the operation and filling of the dam had reached a dead-end. The three sides were expected to sign a final deal in late February, when the last meeting was scheduled to be held in Washington, but Ethiopia skipped the meeting, citing domestic reasons.