Egypt concerned over Ethiopian unresponsiveness

Egypt concerned over Ethiopian unresponsiveness

A picture taken on May 28, 2013 shows the Blue Nile River in Guba, Ethiopia, during its diversion ceremony (AFP/File, William Lloyd-George)

A picture taken on May 28, 2013 shows the Blue Nile River in Guba, Ethiopia, during its diversion ceremony (AFP/File, William Lloyd-George)

Egypt is deeply concerned with Ethiopia’s unresponsiveness to calls by the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation to hold talks, foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdel Atty said on Saturday.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan’s ministers of water planned to hold technical talks on the implementation of the international panel of experts’ (IPoE) report on the effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on downstream countries like Egypt and Sudan.

An Egyptian diplomatic source said Egypt will absolutely renew the call for talks.

“We have to move forward; we cannot waste time,” the source said, while adding that Ethiopia said the time is “inconvenient” and that a date has to be set.

Abdel Atty said he regrets that an entire month has passed since former foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr’s visit to Addis Ababa and Khartoum in which he agreed to immediately start holding the technical talks.

The IPoE report recommended conducting more in-depth studies on the effects of the dam. Abdel Atty said “no more time should be wasted” without conducting these studies, as the possible effects of the dam on Egypt’s water resources cannot be determined without them.

“The Ethiopian side continues to carry out construction at the dam’s site, ignoring the recommendations of the IPoE which it [Ethiopia] officially announced that it will commit to,” Abdel Atty said.

Last week, the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation said that approximately 24% of the construction of the dam had been completed.

Ethiopia began diverting the Blue Nile on 28 May in its construction of the Renaissance Dam, a $4.2bn hydro-electric dam that has sparked fears that Egypt’s share of Nile water will be affected.

Abdel Atty said he hopes that the opportunity to reach a compromise that meets everyone’s interests is not lost. He added that at the forefront of these interests are Ethiopia’s right to development and Egypt’s right to preserve its only source of water.

Abdel Atty added that Egypt’s water security is “non-negotiable”.

Tensions ran high between Egypt and Ethiopia during the last month of former president Mohamed Morsi’s rule, with Morsi warning that if Egypt’s share of the water decreases, “our blood will be the alternative.”

Egypt has long received the largest share of the water from the Nile, as per agreements signed in 1929 and 1959, which guaranteed Egypt 55.5bn cubic metres of the estimated total of 84bn cubic metres of Nile water produced each year.

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