Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry has said that there is no need for worry on the second filling of the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) project.
He also said that Egypt obtains a safe stock of water in Lake Nasser, which lies behind the Aswan High Dam, so that Egyptians do not have to panic about the second phase of filling the Ethiopian dam’s reservoir.
Shoukry made his remarks in a televised interview on Tuesday evening, during his visit to the French capital, Paris.
“We have confidence that the second filling of the GERD will not affect Egyptian interests,” he said.
The minister added that Egypt can deal with the second filling through tight procedures in managing its water resources.
The minister pointed out that international moves related to the GERD crisis show the importance of the issue, and allow for the African Union (AU) head to be briefed on the Egyptian viewpoint.
He stressed that the Egyptian viewpoint in the crisis is flexible and moderate, and reflects a desire to get out of the crisis by reaching an agreement.
Regarding the visit of the US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Jeffrey Feltman to Egypt and East Africa, Shoukry said that Feltman has experience by virtue of holding many positions that qualify him to interact quickly on the GERD issue.
Feltman visited Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Sudan from 4 May to 13 May at the head of a sustained diplomatic effort to address the interlinked political, security, and humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa.
The US official’s visit to the region came amid a stalemate in the negotiations between the three parties involved in the GERD issue, namely Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.
The US envoy held meetings with officials from the respective governments, as well as the United Nations (UN) and the AU.
Moreover, Shoukry pointed out that Egypt is awaiting an invitation from the AU Chair, currently President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Felix Tshisekedi, for a meeting in the presence of the parties.
The meeting is set to make a decision that is expected to lead to further negotiation opportunities in a new framework, with more effective participation by international observers.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Atty explained in April this year, that the expected harm due to the Ethiopian dam would occur at the time of drought. He noted, however, that “that Egypt is ready to deal with this”.
“We have a plan that has been in place for five years, including decreasing rice, cane and banana cultivated areas, and lining canals,” he said.
Abdel Atty noted that water is assumed to run normally after filling, but the problem lies in managing the drought. He indicated that it is possible that drought may occur after 30 years, “and if that happens, it will be a disaster”.