President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Saturday that dams on the Nile would have never been built was it not for the impact of the 2011 uprising, urging Egyptians not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
President El-Sisi's remarks in reference to the construction of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which started in 2011 raising Egypt's fears it could negatively impact its share of the Nile water, came during the session on "The effects of publishing lies in light of Fourth Generation Wars" at the Eighth National Youth Conference.
“In 2011 we were not ready for the major developments that took place… the country moved... however, platforms had already been set up... I stress that the very pure youths who went into motion wanted the best interests of the country,” El-Sisi said.
However, El-Sisi said the country "is paying since 2011 for one mistake... a price we’ve paid and will continue to pay," in reference to the construction of the Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia, which started in 2011.
"I have not said this in public before," the president told the audience.
“Dams would not have been built on the River Nile... was it not for 2011,” El-Sisi said, in reference to the popular uprising of January 2011.
“I’m saying extremely critical things. I’m telling you because the more dangerous thing is that you repeat [the same mistake] again,” El-Sisi said.
The Egyptian president’s remarks today on the GERD comes as Egypt continues to express concern over prolonged and stalled negotiations on the speed of filling the mega hydroelectric dam, which Egypt fears would reduce its share of water.
In March 2015, after prolonged negotiations between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, the three countries signed a Declaration of Principles to safeguard the interests of all three parties in access to their respective shares in the Nile waters.
However, talks between Egypt and Ethiopia over the period in which Ethiopia would fill the dam in a way that safeguards the interests of both countries have stalled.
Egypt's Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has explained that a two percent decline in Egypt’s Nile water share would turn 200,000 feddans into non-arable lands.
Egypt has repeatedly expressed its openness to reaching an agreement with Ethiopia over GERD, saying that reaching a deal would help both safeguard the interests of all parties involved and achieve Ethiopia’s goals in development.
Last week, according to the state news agency MENA, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed concerns over talks with the Ethiopian side during a meeting of Arab foreign ministers at the Arab League.
These concerns were also conveyed on Wednesday by the Deputy Foreign Minister for African Affairs Hamdi Sanad Loza to European ambassadors during a meeting in Cairo.