After Trump’s statements, Ethiopia rejects “sterile threats” regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Saturday 24 October 2020 12:10

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Addis Ababa – REUTERS Dubai –the East

On Saturday, Ethiopia expressed its rejection of what it described as “sterile aggressive threats” aimed at subjecting it to agreeing to “unfair” conditions regarding the Renaissance Dam, against the backdrop of statements by US President Donald Trump hinting at the possibility of Egypt blowing up the dam.

On Friday, Trump said after talks with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, that the situation is very dangerous due to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam crisis. Because Egypt will not accept coexistence in this way, and “the Renaissance Dam will explode in the end.”

On Saturday, the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office, Abiy Ahmed, issued a statement criticizing the “aggressive statements” and “insulting to Ethiopian sovereignty,” in what appeared to be a response to Trump’s statements, but he did not refer to the US President by name.

On the other hand, former Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn criticized Trump’s statements directly, and said in a tweet: “Rash talks with the President of the United States and the Sudanese Prime Minister. Sorry to say this, but the man has no idea what he is talking about.”

Desalegn added, “Ethiopia will never be threatened by such irresponsible statements. History will tell everyone.”

‘Misleading threats’

In the statement of the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office, the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s office stated that, in conjunction with the construction work of the Renaissance Dam, “Ethiopia has expressed many times its firm commitment to cooperation on the Nile, based on mutual trust and principles of fair and rational use of the river.”

The statement said that the negotiations on the Renaissance Dam “showed important progress since the African Union took over the management of the crisis, and reflected Africa’s ability to deal with its problems.”

He added, “The statements that contain aggressive threats aiming to make Ethiopia surrender to unfair conditions (regarding the Renaissance Dam crisis) are increasing.”

The statement of the Ethiopian Prime Minister’s Office described these threats as “insulting to the Ethiopian sovereignty,” considering them “misleading threats, sterile and a clear violation of international law.”

The statement stressed that Ethiopia, as a developing country, may “face poverty, but it is rich in history and the patriotism of its people, whose commitment remains to defend the sovereignty of their country.”

The statement escalated a warning tone, saying that “Ethiopia will not yield to any aggression of any nature, nor will it recognize rights based on colonial agreements.”

The statement renewed Ethiopia’s commitment to “a peaceful solution to the issue of the Renaissance Dam based on cooperation, non-interference in internal affairs, mutual trust and the principles of fair and rational use.”

Trump warns

On Friday, US President Donald Trump warned during a press conference at the White House, in which Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu participated by phone, of a possible escalation regarding the Renaissance Dam.

“I said it and say it loud and clear … They will blow up that dam,” Trump said. He considered that Egypt had to stop the Renaissance Dam a long time ago, pointing out that it had not done so because it might have been “preoccupied with the revolution when Ethiopia started building the dam,” noting that the period of the January 25 revolution “was bad for Egypt.”

Trump asserted that “Egypt cannot be blamed for its anger at the Renaissance Dam,” which he said halted the flow of water to the Nile. 

Trump said that he had previously prepared “an agreement for the three parties (Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia) regarding the dam, but unfortunately Ethiopia violated the agreement, which is something it should not have done. It was a big mistake” by Ethiopia.

Trump indicated that the agreement “has been negotiated for five years or more, and Ethiopia was ready to sign it, but it violated it, which is not good.” 

He stressed that Washington had stopped “paying a lot of aid” to Ethiopia because of its rejection of the agreement, noting that Addis Ababa “will never see that money until we hear about reaching an agreement.”

Ethiopian accusations

Ethiopia accuses the United States of trying to “exert pressure” to force Addis Ababa to sign an “unbalanced” agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. 

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Dina Mufti, said last August that America’s pressure “does nothing but harm the course of the tripartite negotiations.”

Mufti pointed out that Ethiopia “has always been consistent in its messages regarding its bilateral relationship with the United States,” but stressed that “America’s pressure on the GERD agreement harms relations between the two countries,” stressing that “there are no pressures capable of disrupting construction.”

Last September, the United States announced the suspension of part of its financial aid to Ethiopia temporarily, in response to Addis Ababa’s decision to start filling the dam before reaching an agreement.

The United States sought to end the dispute last year when it sponsored trilateral negotiations in Washington, but Addis Ababa, which agreed to the US draft agreement, withdrew from the last round of negotiations before the formal signing of the agreement.

Then the negotiations started under the auspices of the African Union months ago, but the three countries were unable to reach a final draft agreement, and thus the negotiations stalled again

Source: Asharq