Ethiopia aims to soothe Egypt fears over the Nile

Posted: January 28, 2015 in Alarabiya
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Ahead of the upcoming African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s prime minister has sought to soothe Egyptian fears over the potential impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance dam on the Arab country’s share of Nile River water.

In an interview conducted by Egyptian journalist Abdel Latif Elmenawy for Al Tahrir television channel on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said his country had “no reason” to make “the Egyptian people feel that they are threatened because of the Nile River.”photo 1 (1)

“We say that this is a God-given resource for all of us, and we have to use this resource in both a rational and reasonable way. That both Ethiopia develops and Egyptian people get their safe share to develop from the Nile water,” Desalegn said.

“I think we can share this resource without harming each other, without impeding Ethiopian development, without making insecurity in Egypt. We know that it is a bloodline. The Nile is a bloodline to Egypt. To the people of Egypt,” Desalegn added.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is expected to fly this week to Ethiopia to attend the African Union summit where he will meet with Prime Minister Desalegn in a rare opportunity for direct talks between the two countries.

Ethiopia – nicknamed “Africa’s water tower” – is the source of about 80 percent of Nile water, but Egypt is the most dependent on the river. Cairo fears that Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance dam could cut its share of the water.

The legal framework that governs the management of the Nile is a 1929 treaty between Egypt and colonial Britain and a 1959 treaty between Egypt and Sudan. Ethiopia considers the arrangement to be unfair, because it was not colonized and Britain did not speak on its behalf.

The Ethiopian prime minister said Egypt should not be concerned about the Renaissance dam, saying: “There is a scientific way” of ensuring everyone gets their fair share of the water.

“The filling of the dam is scientifically determined, in what period of time whatever has to be decided.”

He said his country has taken an initiative to establish an international panel of experts to study the impact of the dam on countries downstream from the structure, “especially Sudan and Egypt.”

He said he believed differences with Cairo could be resolved through dialogue, saying any use of threats on the part of Cairo would be a ‘failed strategy,’ referring to previous threats made by ousted president Mohammad Morsi.

“The era of the Egyptian leadership during the Muslim Brotherhood – especially president Mursi – was a tough time. A very complicated era, because you know a statesman, in a televised way, threatening Ethiopia that he was going to take military actions against us, which is an open televised statement,” the Ethiopian prime minister said.

“It is a failure, when you think to threaten a country militarily, it’s from the inception, it is a failed strategy.”

‘When al Sisi came to power we came to understand that he is a man of sincerity, a man of understanding, and also a man of genuine engagement with countries, with Ethiopia,” he added.

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