File - Sameh Shoukry - press photo
CAIRO – 23 September 2019: “I don't think anybody would agree that the Ethiopian development should come at the expense of the lives of Egyptians,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in an interview with
in New York.
Egypt and Ethiopia are at loggerheads over the controversial and under-construction Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as Cairo voiced its concern over its share after Ethiopia started building the dam on the Blue Nile in May 2011. A series of tripartite talks between the two countries along with Sudan has begun in 2014. One year later, the three countries reached an agreement, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be affected by the construction of the dam. However, the two countries recently blamed each other for hindering a final agreement concerning the technical problem.
Shourky added in his interview that the disagreement is a “scientific issue”, saying “science should not be manipulated politically.” The problematic point between Egypt and Ethiopia is related to the period of filling the dam’s reservoir with water; Egypt has recently submitted the Ethiopian and Sudanese sides a proposal to fill the dam’s reservoir over seven years. The dam’s capacity is 73 billion cubic meters of water and this means that Egypt will lose 10 billion cubic meters annually of its 55.5 water share over the proposed period. However, Ethiopia rejected the offer.
Three days ago, Ethiopian Foreign Ministry claimed that Egypt’s proposal puts Ethiopia’s sovereignty in question, saying in remarks to Ethiopian News Agency “any move that does not respect Ethiopia’s sovereignty and its right to use the Nile dam has no acceptance.”
For his part, Shoukry affirmed that Egypt cannot violate the Ethiopian sovereignty, saying “we have no intention nor desire to infringe on anyone's sovereignty, as we would not accept the infringement on our sovereignty. But we really would like to be appraised of what the objections are.”
He added that the Nile water is a matter of live and death for the 100-million Egyptians as 95 percent of Egyptian territories is desert.