'EU wants successful outcomes' from GERD negotiations: European ambassador to Egypt

Mohamed Soliman , Wednesday 21 Oct 2020

New European Union ambassador to Cairo, Christian Berger, said Egypt has the potential to be an important regional hub in transferring knowledge in fields of irrigation, water and how to make water a sustainable resource

Christian Berger
EU Ambassador to Egypt Christian Berger

The European Union (EU) ambassador to Egypt, Christian Berger, has said the EU wants successful outcomes from the ongoing negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan over the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Berger expressed the European body's support to the dam negotiations under the aegis of the African Union (AU).

"We welcome the continued engagement of Egypt in these discussions and all the other parties that take part in the negotiations and of course, we support very much efforts of the chair of the African Union," he said at a conference on Wednesday on the sideline of the Cairo Water Week (CWW) event.

Cairo and Khartoum have been in talks with Addis Ababa for years now to reach a legally binding agreement on the filling and operating of the massive hydropower dam Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile.

The recent round of talks mediated by AU, and observed by the US, the EU, the AU and the AU Commission, has come to a close in late August without reaching a consensus on the legal and technical points of contention.

The AU had stepped in the near decade-long dispute as the previous rounds of negotiations deadlocked more than once.

Berger said "We want  a successful outcome of the engagement of these discussions," while assuring necessity of the efforts exerted by the African Union in this respect, which he described as an "important role."

"We as the European Union will continue to observe the talks," noted the ambassador.

During a phone call last week, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi reaffirmed to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the current chair of the AU, the Egyptian constants regarding the resumption of tripartite negotiations, expressing Egypt's rejection of any action or procedure that violates Egypt's rights in the Nile waters.

Cairo fears the project will significantly cut its crucial water supplies from the River Nile, while Sudan has concerns on how the reservoir will be managed.

Ethiopia says the massive project, which it hopes will make it Africa’s largest power exporter, is key to its development efforts.

During Wednesday's event, Berger said Egypt is a strategic partner to the EU and the Cairo Water week (CWW) event demonstrates this partnership.

The CWW, being held currently in the Egyptian capital for the third year in a row, is organised by the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation in cooperation with the EU delegation in Egypt.

Berger shed light on areas of cooperation between the European body and Egypt especially in water desalination purification fields, noting that it has invested in Egypt up to 500 million euros, or some 3 billion euros if the loans provided by the union are added.

The European ambassador said Egypt has the potential to be an important regional hub in transferring knowledge in fields of irrigation, water and how to make water a sustainable resource.

According to Berger, around 12.000 km of water and wastewater network is to be constructed, and nearly 130 wastewater treatment plants and 75 water treatment plants will be expanded or newly constructed.

Since 2007, the EU-Egyptian cooperation in the water sector stretches over a wide portfolio of programmes covering 14 Egyptian Governorates.

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