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Guterres encourages Member States to reach agreement over Ethiopian Nile dam project

Guterres encourages Member States to reach agreement over Ethiopian Nile dam project

India Blooms News Service | @indiablooms | 20 May 2020, 07:17 am

New York/IBNS: UN chief António Guterres is encouraging Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to persevere with efforts to overcome their differences and reach agreement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Through his spokesperson, the Secretary-General noted on Tuesday that “good progress” is being made in negotiations between the three countries in hopes of achieving a mutually beneficial agreement.

Going up along the Blue Nile near the border with Sudan, and under construction since 2011, the $4.5 billion dam – also known by its acronym GERD - will be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric power plant once completed.

Negotiations centre on the pace at which Ethiopia fills the 74 billion cubic metre reservoir behind the dam and the impact that could have on water supplies downstream in Sudan and Egypt.

Ethiopia is keen to start filling the reservoir in July.

“The Secretary-General underscores the importance of the 2015 Declaration of Principles on the GERD, which emphasizes cooperation based on common understanding, mutual benefit, good faith, win-win, and the principles of international law,” the spokesman said.

“The Secretary-General encourages progress towards an amicable agreement in accordance with the spirit of these Principles,” he added.

Resolving differences

Cairo, Addis Ababa and Khartoum have all indicated their willingness to resume discussions, but differences linger over the appropriate mechanism for such talks.

UN experts say that Egypt wants to put international pressure on Ethiopia to agree to a proposal - put forward by the United States and World Bank - on the dam’s first filling and annual operation.

But Ethiopia is rejecting that idea as severely limiting the dam’s capacity to generate electricity and curtailing rights to future upstream development, among other reasons.

Egypt also insists that Ethiopia must not start filling the reservoir until an agreement is reached, in line with its interpretation of the Declaration that Ethiopia is contesting.

The Secretary-General encourages progress towards an amicable agreement -- UN Spokesperson

The Declaration, signed in March 2015, outlines the parties’ commitment to cooperation and to resolve differences through negotiations. It also states that if a dispute cannot be resolved, the matter can be referred to the heads of State and Government with an option for a joint request for mediation.

Ethiopia favours resolving the dispute at the trilateral level and has historically been against internationalizing the issue, seeing no mediation role for the United Nations.

On 13 May, Sudan’s Ministry of Irrigation said that the country could not agree to an Ethiopian proposal on the initial filling as it failed to address longer-term technical, legal and environmental issues.

According to news reports, Egypt also dismissed the Ethiopian proposal on the initial filling, writing a letter to the Security Council on 1 May calling on Ethiopia to respect its obligations and resume talks.

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again; UNESCO regrets #HagiaSophia, #Turkey, #Istanbul, #HagiaSophiaMosqueAgain Istanbul/IBNS: Hagia Sophia, Turkey's iconic monument, a UNESCO World Heritage and one of the central attractions of its capital Istanbul, is no longer a museum. It has been turned back as a mosque though some 1500 years ago it was built as an Orthodox Christian cathedral. Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman time in 1453 while under Ataturk it was turned into a museum in 1935. The decision comes amid a growing rise of the Islamists in Turkey who had been demanding that it be restored as a mosque though Opposition leaders with secular credentials had been against the move. A top court in Turkey ruled that turning it into a museum in 1935 by modern Turkey's secular architect Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was illegal, paving the way for present Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to declare it as a mosque again and to open it for Muslim prayers. Erdogan made the announcement an hour after the court ruled the conversion to museum in 1935 as illegal and scrapped its status. "May it be beneficial," posted Erdogan on Twitter, sharing an official document on the change with his signature. UNESCO regrets In an immediate reaction, UNESCO said it "deeply regrets" the decision. UNESCO said it was "regrettable that the Turkish decision was not the subject of dialog nor notification beforehand". "UNESCO calls on the Turkish authorities to open a dialog without delay in order to avoid a step back from the universal value of this exceptional heritage whose preservation will be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee in its next session," the United Nation's cultural body said in a statement. Istanbul icon of beauty and wonderment According to Turkey's official tourism website, Hagia Sophia is a remarkable achievement in the history of architecture. and a living proof of mankind's revolt against the laws of physics and it calls it a monument whose importance transcends borders. It is one of UNESCO's World Cultural Heritage sites attracting millions of visitors across the world with its majestic grandeur

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Erdogan's Turkey turns Hagia Sophia into a mosque again 11 Jul 2020, 01:37 pm