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No new policy on Ethiopian dam: Foreign ministry

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Egypt says no room for concessions on GERD that would harm water security

An “integrated action plan” is being implemented “gradually” to protect Egypt’s water security interests in regards to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) (Photo from Ethiopian Electric Power Cooperation)

An “integrated action plan” is being implemented “gradually” to protect Egypt’s water security interests in regards to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)
(Photo from Ethiopian Electric Power Cooperation)

An “integrated action plan” is being implemented “gradually” to protect Egypt’s water security interests in regards to the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), said the foreign ministry spokesman on Monday.

He also stressed that Egypt’s position on the dam was unchanged, adding that there is no new policy file to address the issue “and it is clear there is no room at all for concessions or allowances harming our interests because it is a subject of national security”. The plan includes “political, legal and other technical elements”, added the spokesman.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy travelled to Brussels on Monday for the EU-Africa Summit. On the sidelines of the summit Fahmy discussed the GERD issue with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and his Chadian counterpart. The ministry spokesman said Fahmy is also scheduled to meet with Ethiopian Minister of Foreign Affairs Tedros Adhanom over the course of the two-day summit.

The Egyptian foreign ministry announced in March a detailed outline of the official stance towards the GERD. Egypt is looking to negotiate a “win-win” situation for all parties involved, both protecting the developmental need of Ethiopia and the water security of Egypt and Sudan. The ministry also said that continued construction of the dam is illegal.

Days later Ethiopia announced that the GERD would be capable of producing electricity by 2015.

Egypt, along with Sudan, have both expressed concerns over the construction of the GERD, believing that the hydroelectric dam could impact negatively upon the water flow downstream. Talks between all three countries have been ongoing for over a year, with joint participation from the foreign and water ministries.

Tripartite talks between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia were held in November, December, and January but no agreement was reached. The talks focused on the formation of a committee to implement recommendations put forth by a report detailing confidence-building measures concerning the dam and its effect on downstream nations.

The latest talks concluded in February after failing to resolve the sticking points of the debate between the two countries.

Despite a lack of progress in the talks, Ethiopia’s ambassador to Egypt Mahamoud Dirir said he doubted the need for mediation between Egypt and Ethiopia on the GERD issue. “There are two, and only two, countries in the entire world which are well-placed to mediate between Egypt and Ethiopia; and these are, of course, Ethiopia and Egypt themselves,” said the ambassador.

 

About the author

Joel Gulhane

News Reporter

Joel Gulhane is a journalist with an interest in Egyptian and regional politics. Follow him on Twitter @jgulhane


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