EU urges riparian states to resume talks

European Union Ambassador to Egypt Marc Franco urged states of the Nile Basin to negotiate an agreement regulating the distribution of Nile water, stressing that he “understood” Egypt’s position on the issue.

“The EU supports and calls for the resumption of negotiations between the Nile basin states,” Franco told journalists Thursday.

According to Franco, the EU “understands the Egyptian position on this matter, as Nile water is considered by Egypt to be a national security issue since it depends on the river for 95 percent of its water.”

The ambassador went on to note that “the EU intervened before states signed the Nile states framework agreement to try to convince them that they shouldn’t sign without consensus on the issue.”

The ongoing dispute between upstream and downstream states–the latter being Egypt and Sudan–intensified after five upstream countries signed a framework agreement in April in Entebbe, Uganda. The agreement called for the reallocation of Nile water in favor of upstream states. Egypt and Sudan vehemently rejected the agreement.

Egypt currently receives the lion’s share of Nile water under the terms of a 1959 agreement with Sudan. According to this treaty, Egypt is entitled to 51 billion cubic meters per year, while Sudan is entitled to 18 billion cubic meters per year. Upstream states, for their part, are not guaranteed any rights to Nile water under the 1959 agreement.

Egypt argues that, according to a 1929 water sharing agreement penned by Great Britain and the 1959 treaty, Nile Basin states must agree by consensus before altering the existing terms of water distribution.

Franco stated that any agreement signed by Nile Basin states without the approval of Egypt and Sudan would be “misguided.”

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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