Alemayehu of Aargau: the military conflict over the Renaissance dam unreal

Ethiopia is nearing completion of construction of its dam on the Blue Nile Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) – "the Dam of the great Renaissance of Ethiopia". Hydroelectric power plant aims to become the largest hydropower project in Africa. However, Egypt and Sudan, downstream of the Nile, not the first to Express concern with the construction of this HPP. The Ambassador of Ethiopia in Russia, Alemayehu Tegegn of Aargau in an interview with RIA Novosti Helen Protopopov told about the negotiations in Addis Ababa, Cairo and Khartoum on the dam, about the threat of drought because of it to Egypt and the Sudan and the possibility of a military conflict in the region due to large-scale Ethiopian structures.

This is a very important question. As we know, the talks are continuing since long as the construction of the dam. In July, Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan agreed to conduct negotiations under the auspices of the African Union. African issues — the African solution. The subject of tripartite negotiations are the issues of filling of the dam, the cooperation on this project. The next round of talks will be announced by the Chairperson of the African Union, the President of South Africa.

— All talks will be held in a virtual format. Each of the participants will be in their country.

There's no reason to make these trilateral talks outside Africa. They can pass in Cairo, Addis Ababa, Khartoum. Most of the events relating to the dam, taking place in Addis Ababa, so it's best to hold these meetings in Addis Ababa. However, based on past experience, we can meet in the capitals of the three countries.

From the very beginning the US was not a mediator. USA acted as the observer. Now there is no need for US involvement, since the negotiations are held under the auspices of the African Union. As I said, African problems African solution.

GERD — African, Ethiopian dam. It is very important to solve the problem at the site of the African Union. There is no need to solve it outside of Africa.

— Do you know if the country acting as observer, then no problem. But if any side enters the side of the negotiators, wants to become a party to the negotiations, it is not good.

In Washington, a draft agreement was prepared by the U.S. Treasury that was wrong, why Ethiopia rejected him, did not sign the agreement. I think the best format of negotiations on the dam – with the mediation of the African Union. The participation of other players we don't need.

— You know, if need be. If there is no need, we don't want to get involved other countries. At the moment, the assistance of technical specialists is not needed, we have enough experts. We can discuss all the issues.

— From the very beginning the treatment of this issue in the UN Security Council was useless, pointless. The construction of the dam is a development issue, not a safety issue, the issue of Ethiopia, regional issue. It will benefit Africa, to the benefit of Ethiopia. The Security Council did not discuss these issues. The dam does not pose a threat to security, so from the outset, the appeal to the UN security Council was not supported by Ethiopia.

I think you could see that the UN security Council recommended to contact the African Union.

We erected a dam on funds from its own budget. Not one penny of the parties involved. Many international companies take part in supplying to the construction of the dam. These companies are from Italy, China, USA, Germany, France. There is no special privilege for China. We refer to all of these companies equally. This applies to all companies involved in the construction. I don't think Egypt is in the talks under the US influence. There is no connection. Ethiopia believes in the format of tripartite negotiations.

— I don't think the issue will take a long time. Now the talks are under the auspices of the African Union, and I think all problems will be removed very soon. GERD is not a cause for conflict. The dam is a valuable facility for the region. It is a source of cooperation rather than conflict.

— No, never. This dam — building of the people of Ethiopia and government of Ethiopia. There is no need to make concessions. We will complete the dam, we have a plan to share electricity with other African countries.

— The filling of the dam is one of the stages of its construction. As I said, we continue to build. Indeed, the first stage is completed. We will fill the dam in accordance with the agreed timetable in a period of 4 to 7 years. There is a possibility to fill the dam in a period of even less than 4 years. For the benefit of the downstream countries, Ethiopia may agree to a period of 4 to 7 years.

— Power generation will start, maybe in the next few months. Can't say the exact time because there is construction. But there is hope that the electricity will go in a few months. Maybe this year.

— Initial investments will amount to 4.3 billion euros. After completion, this amount may increase. But you know, not a single penny from the dam is not attached. We build a dam on your budget of the government and people of Ethiopia.

— Let me first say that this is all just predictions. The dam is designed so that it does not cause any significant harm to Egypt and Sudan. Some media publish inaccurate information.

If they want to get a true picture, they can come to Ethiopia and see it for themselves: how do we build a dam. Nine years ago we invited an international group of experts as well as experts from Egypt and the Sudan to see to perform project documentation. Egypt and Sudan know that the dam will not cause any significant harm to the farms areas.

— No. We do not have any ability to cause drought. Ethiopia cannot bring drought. Drought is a phenomenon out of the will of Ethiopia, it is beyond our capacity. If a drought happens, it will be the responsibility of the three countries – Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt and Ethiopia.

— No. My answer is no.