UNESCO International Water Cooperation Chair Professor Swain has urged Egypt to avoid delaying tactics and find a lasting settlement at the African Union (AU) led Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) mediation.
In an exclusive interview with ENA, Professor Ashok Swain said Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan have made major progress on the dispute in talks mediated by the African Union; and they have continued the negotiation to reach a comprehensive solution.
According to the chair, the ongoing tripartite negotiation on the dam by the AU would be taken as a larger part of regional cooperation despite some setbacks in the mediation.
“I think African Union is a better place to mediate GERD. In spite of all the challenges, the African Union negotiates it, and the negotiation has moved quite a long way. We also see that agreement has not been signed. But there have been a number of issues where these countries have agreed or they have agreed to disagree,” he elaborated.
However, the professor underscored that there have been delaying tactics by Egypt which has been still trying to obstruct the tripartite negotiation to resolve the dispute among the three countries.
“There have been certain issues which Egypt has been always putting its demand and wanted to be in many ways settled before it reaches agreement with Ethiopia. And I think we all know that there have been delaying tactics by Egypt.”
Ministers of the three countries had, for instance, exchanged views on the continuation of the trilateral negotiation focusing on a draft document presented by the experts assigned by the chairperson of the AU and pronounced positive by Ethiopia.
Also, Sudan confirmed the importance of the document for the progress of the negotiation and its willingness to advance the negotiation with a defined role of the AU experts.
Egypt, however, categorically, rejected the document.
Of late, however, Professor Swain noted that Sudan, the country which was not considered as part of the trilateral mediation on the GERD over the past nine years, has been changing its stand.
“In the past few years, when Ethiopia has been building GERD, Sudan has come to a neutral stand towards Ethiopia to a large extent. If you look at the recent negotiation, particularly the last two years negotiation, it has always been between Egypt and Ethiopia. Even the world forgot Sudan in this tough negotiation. But now Sudan has changed its stance,” the chair explained.
According to Professor Swain, Sudan’s change in stance could be because of the political situation with Ethiopia that has deteriorated to some extent in the border areas as well internal political situation between the two countries.
Noting that the rough time has been coming between Ethiopia and Sudan, the chair observed that the best possible thing is to find a negotiated settlement to keep the water negotiation outside territorial or border disputes.
He pointed out that Ethiopia, which has been investing huge amount of resources for its economic and political capital on GERED, is going through a bit of a difficult time now. Nevertheless, the country’s effort which has remained moderate so that the dam dispute will get African solution is laudable.
“I think somehow Ethiopia has been working to find African approach to a negotiation settlement,” Swain noted.
The chair finally suggested political willingness between the three countries as it would be instrumental to calm down the ongoing dispute and ensure equitable water utilization on Nile River.