Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom met Mr. Jean Asselborn, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Luxembourg today (June 10th), with discussions covering Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan and International Criminal Court’s indictment of Kenyan political leaders as well as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The Luxembourg Deputy Premier briefed Dr. Tedros on his recent meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Amr in Cairo. He said Egypt’s Foreign Minister had assured him that he rejected any aggressive postures. The tone of their discussion had been the need for normalcy and to de-escalate any rhetoric and noise. Dr. Tedros for his part reiterated that Ethiopia’s position regarding GERD and the utilization of the Nile waters is a win-win approach. He said that Ethiopia would continue to use the Nile waters as long as this doesn’t pose significant harm on any other riparian states “in accordance with the principles of equitable and reasonable utilization.” Dr. Tedros noted that Ethiopia’s energy demand was doubling every three years and the construction of GERD was part of the way of addressing those growing demands without which the country cannot realize its development potential and efforts. He noted that Ethiopia would not accept any one-sided arrangements in the utilization of the Nile waters which left Ethiopia as no more than a bystander when it actually contributed 87% of the water. He said “Ethiopia cannot remain poor; it must utilize its resources to lift its people out of poverty.” Dr. Tedros stated firmly that Ethiopia would neither accept any proposal that suggested halting the construction of the Dam nor to reduce the Dam’s size. He pointed out that the International Panel of Experts report had confirmed that the construction of the Dam posed no appreciable harm on Sudan and Egypt. He explained that the frenzy over the ‘diversion’ of the river was misplaced. He said what actually took place on the 28th of May was re-routing of the river, which did not affect the volume or flow of the water, was hardly something new. It is a well established fact which the Egyptians have also been aware of that a re-routing of the river is a must in the construction process of any dam. Dr. Tedros said panic about it came from misrepresentation. Egypt, he pointed out, can only benefit from genuine partnership and he pointed out that Ethiopia accorded more weight to transparency over the issue than anything else. This was evident from its original initiative in establishing to establish the committee of experts that just finished its work. He said using the issue of GERD for mater to domestic political ends was a dangerous game, and he repeated that the two countries, which he said were brought together by nature, could only benefit from cooperation. Dr. Tedros emphasized Ethiopia’s firm belief in dialogue.
With regard to Sudan and South Sudan, the two sides noted with concern the growing tension and the need to continue to encourage the two sides to bring them in to discussion table. Dr. Tedros affirmed Ethiopia’s readiness to support the peace efforts launched by AUHIP to bring both sides together before the end of the sixty day ultimatum given by Sudan. He noted that the Ethiopia was concerned over the ongoing accusations and counter accusation s particularly over the withdrawal of troops under the security arrangements. On Somalia, Dr. Tedros briefed the Minister about the current impasse between the political actors in Kismayo, and the federal government and IGAD’s efforts to bring a solution. He noted that the communiqué issued by IGAD had been welcomed by the government of Somalia and other political actors.
With regard to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Dr. Tedros noted Africa’s deep dissatisfaction with ICC process citing the indictments of President Kenyatta and his Deputy, William Ruto. He said Kenya had conducted the political process in a commendable way, reformed its judicial system, introduced a new constitution and conducted a successful election. He said he was proud of what Kenya had achieved in this regard. He said that as Kenyans had been able to do this they should be given a chance to deal with legal matters on their own soil. He said that the problem with the ICC was in the institution itself as was evident in its dealings with Africa. He said he rejected the ICC’s intrusion on three major grounds. It greatly undermined the judicial system of Africa; as applied the Rome Statue operated a real double standard, and thirdly it completely ignores the relevance of the legal process in bringing peace in fragile political situation. He stressed “our difference with ICC should not be taken as an endorsement of the practice of impunity; rather it is based on principled points.” The Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister underlined in principle the importance of having an international criminal court; and he noted that further dialogue with Africa might have a bearing on the practices of the ICC. He stressed the importance of encouraging more discussion.