Tunisian President Kais Saeid affirmed on Saturday that his country would never accept Egypt’s water security to be compromised.
Saeid’s statement came during a joint press conference with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi at the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace in Cairo.
Prior to Saeid’s remarks, El-Sisi said that the issue of the Egyptian water security was tackled during his meeting with Saeid given that it is part of Arab national security, highlighting efforts made by Egypt to reach a fair and comprehensive agreement on the rules for filling and operating the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
The Tunisian president, who arrived on Friday for a three-day visit to Cairo, saeid during the press conference that El-Sisi was speaking of fair solutions, but not at the expense of Egypt.
“I say this with complete conviction, because we have fully read history and anticipate the future well, and we will never accept the compromising of Egypt’s water security,” the Tunisian president said.
This comes less than a week after the collapse of the latest round of the almost-decade long GERD negotiations. Last week's three-day GERD talks, which were held in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) under the auspices of the African Union, were deadlocked due to what Egypt and Sudan described as Ethiopia’s intransigence.
As a result of reaching a deadlock in talks with Ethiopia, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry asserted in TV statements last Tuesday that Egypt and Sudan would head to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to brief it on the developments of the dispute caused by the massive $4.8 billion Ethiopian hydropower project.
“I say it and repeat it in front of the whole world… We are looking for just solutions, but the national security of Egypt is our security, and Egypt's stance in any international arena will be our own stance,” said the president of Tunisia, the only Arab member out of the 10 elected and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Egypt and Sudan have been fruitlessly negotiating for almost a decade now with Ethiopia to reach a legally binding deal on the GERD, which Addis Ababa been constructing on the Blue Nile since 2011. While both downstream countries are seeking a legally binding agreement for filling and operating the near-complete GERD, Ethiopia, from the other hand, is seeking mere “guidelines.”
During the inauguration of a national project in Cairo late last week, El-Sisi called on Ethiopia not to compromise Egypt's share of Nile water, saying “all options are possible,” while stressing that “cooperation is better than fighting.”
A few days earlier, El-Sisi warned that “no one can take a drop of water from Egypt… and if it happens, there will be inconceivable instability in the region that no one could imagine," stressing at the same time that his message is "not a threat."
Egypt’s 100 million-plus people are dependent on the Nile for more than 95 percent of their renewable water needs. The country fears that the 6,000-megawatt dam will significantly diminish its crucial water supply, which is already below scarcity level.