By Ahram Online,
No Egyptian official will ever cede Egypt’s right to its water security, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in an interview with Al-Ahram daily published Saturday.
“Any Egyptian citizen should be assured of the ability of Egypt and its negotiators to protect its water interests,” Shoukry said.
Shoukry said that the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam issue is one that represents a major challenge for relations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, as it impacts each country directly.
Shoukry’s interview with Al-Ahram comes a few days after Egypt expressed hope that the three countries will reach a consensus in the upcoming round of talks, due to take place in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on 27-28 December.
Shoukry said that current negotiations have now reached an “important crossroads.”
Shoukry added that the technical aspect of negotiations was stalled due to the failure of the two foreign consultancy firms, Dutch Deltares and French BRL, to work together, leading to a series of meetings between representatives of the three countries to try to agree on other consultancy firms to undertake studies related to the impact of the dam.
Shoukry said it was important to reaffirm the “Declaration of Principles” signed between the heads of the three countries in March 2015 and the time frame agreed to ensure that after the technical studies are conducted the three countries would be able to agree on clear and strict regulations on the first filling of the dam and its operation to preserve the interests of all in accordance with the recommendations of the consultancy firms.
The Egyptian foreign minister said that it was important that everyone acknowledge the strategic nature of relations between the three countries, adding that Egypt is keen on avoiding any harm to any party.
“There is no doubt that there is a negative legacy in the Egyptian-Ethiopian relationship that is originally due to long years of disparity and indirect communication, and a reliance on negative impressions about one another at a time where the Nile actually connects the destiny of two countries in the course of history and forever,” Shoukry said.
Egyptian-Ethiopian relations have witnessed decades of tumult, including under the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak.
The Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam, scheduled to be completed in 2017, will be Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant with a storage capacity of 74 billion cubic metres of water.
Egypt has repeatedly expressed concerns that filling and operating the dam on the Blue Nile will negatively affect its water supply. Ethiopia in turn rejected these claims.
Tension, Disagreement Persists in Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam Negotiations
By Nourhan Elsebahy,
More tension and disagreement has emerged from the recent meetings in Khartoum between the ministers of water resources and foreign affairs of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia concerning the Grand Renaissance Ethiopian Dam project.
Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour described the tripartite meeting’s results as having laid down a positive infrastructure that could soon be articulated in the form of an agreement that satisfies all sides during the meeting scheduled to be held in Khartoum later this month. Ghandour blamed the media for failing to report on positive advancements in the negotiations.
In an interview with Egypt’s Middle East News Agency (MENA), Ghandour reasserted his commitment to the Declaration of Principles signed by the three presidents last March in Khartoum that stated that no party should be negatively affected by the dam.
However, former minister of irrigation and water resources, Mohamed Nasr El-Din Allam told Daily News Egypt: “The negotiations of the previous tripartite meeting weren’t positive or successful.”
Allam stated that the negotiations continue to be marked by relative intransigence with little agreement, dismissing Ghandour’s characterisation of media bias as the principal issue, while also accusing the Sudanese government of intentionally prolonging the negotiations so as to commence construction on the dam before the conclusion of a technical study to be published on 1 June 2016.
Allam added if the talks failed in the next meeting, Egypt should organise a presidential meeting to address its grievances internally before making recourse to the African Union’s organisations and subsequently to the United Nations Security Council.