Russia believes in a resolution for GERD crisis that guarantees the rights of all three countries: Lavrov

Amr Kandil , Monday 12 Apr 2021

In a press conference in Cairo, Egyptian FM Sameh Shoukry and his Russian counterpart also discussed stances on resuming the Middle East peace process, Libya, Syria as well as bilateral relations

Sameh Shoukry and Sergey Lavrov
Egypt foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and his Russian Foreign Minister counterpart Sergey Lavrov during the press conference on Monday April, 12, 2021. Photo courtesy of Foreign ministry Facebook official page

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow is convinced that there is a resolution to the GERD crisis that guarantees the legitimate rights of the three countries, Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia.

Russia supports negotiations between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia under the auspices of the African Union (AU) as the way to reach a resolution to the GERD dispute, Lavrov added.

In a press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry after they held talks in Cairo, Lavrov said other foreign parties’ have a role to play in the resolution of the GERD dispute by creating a better climate for the talks.

Lavrov said his country supports the AU-sponsored negotiations concerning the GERD because Moscow believes in “African solutions for African problems.”

Moscow does not seek to play other roles at the moment since it has not received any invitation to mediate in the dispute alongside the AU, the United Nations, and the European Union, Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, Shoukry said Egypt believes that Russia has the ability through its bilateral relations with the various parties to the GERD dispute to impress on all sides the need to reach a resolution.

Shoukry said Egypt relied on the African path of negotiations and went to the UN last year, but this path has proven ineffective due to Ethiopian unilateral acts and intransigence.

Shoukry said Egypt welcomes any Russian involvement to help push forward the stalled talks.

“We also rely on Russia, through its relations with the three countries [in the dispute] and its capabilities and given its international prestigious impact and position, to push the various parties to refrain from unilateral acts,” Shoukry stated.

Shoukry reiterated the unilateral acts taken by the Ethiopian side and its intransigence have thwarted the negotiations on the GERD for a decade, including the African Union-sponsored talks.

For a decade now, Egypt has been trying to reach an agreement over the GERD during negotiations and showed great flexibility in this regard, putting into consideration the Sudanese and Ethiopian interests in a bid to equally serve interests of all sides without undermining the water quotas of downstream nations, Shoukry said.

Water rights of downstream nations are an existential issue and cannot be handled through negotiations while one of the parties is taking unilateral measures which undermine negotiations and make them hollow, he added.

Lavrov is in Egypt on an official visit as part of a Middle East tour.

He met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi before the meeting with Shoukry.

Sameh Shoukry and Sergey Lavrov
Egypt foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and his Russian Foreign Minister counterpart Sergey Lavrov during their meeting on Monday April, 12, 2021. Photo courtesy of Foreign ministry Facebook official page

Resumption of ME peace talks

Shoukry said he and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, have agreed on the need for the resumption of peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.

Shoukry said he discussed with Lavrov the need to establish an independent Palestinian state according to the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Shoukry confirmed to Lavrov that Egypt welcomes the resumption of activities of the Middle East quartet of mediators, which includes the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations, to address the Palestinian cause.

This comes two weeks after Lavrov said Russia is ready to host talks between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Shoukry said he briefed Lavrov on Egypt’s efforts to resolve the Palestinian cause, including through the Munich quartet of Egypt, Jordan, France, and Germany to advance peace talks and rebuild trust between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

Lavrov said he and Shoukry have hailed the normalisation agreements between Israel and some Arab countries while affirming that these agreements should not lead to marginalising the Palestinian cause.

Lavrov affirmed the need to create suitable conditions for the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian talks and push forward the principles of the Arab Peace Initiative.

Bilateral relations, regional issues

Shoukry said he agreed with the Russian FM on intensifying coordination between the two countries to boost bilateral relations.

He said Egyptian-Russian relations are “among the important relations that Egypt is keen to continuously advance to new horizons.”

Shoukry noted that discussions on cooperation with Russia included the Dabaa nuclear power plant in Egypt, the establishment of a Russian industrial zone in the Suez Canal axis, and the Russian contribution to developing Egyptian railways.

Egypt and Russia “continue to closely coordinate on many issues, especially in terms of the developments in Syria and Libya,” Shoukry said.

Egypt and Russia will soon set a date for a 2+2 meeting gathering of the foreign and defence ministers of both countries to discuss developments in Syria and Libya, Shoukry added.

Lavrov noted that he discussed with Shoukry cultural and educational cooperation as well as Russian projects to develop the transportation infrastructure in Egypt, especially in the railways sector.

Lavrov said he and Shoukry also planned for a new round of talks between the Eurasian Economic Union and Egypt.

On Libya, Lavrov said the current stability in the Libyan situation is a fertile ground for the achievement of political stability in the war-torn country.

Lavrov affirmed Moscow’s support to the recent UN-sponsored decisions taken by the Libyan people to select heads of the executive authority within the framework of the political process.

The Russian foreign minister said Egypt and Russia agree on the need to implement the decisions of the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission.

Lavrov said Egypt and Russia also share the same stance on Syria, including the necessity of adherence to the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 and the need to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

Russia supports the right of self-determination for the Syrian people, Lavrov said.

Meanwhile, Shoukry stressed the importance of the return of Syria to the Arab League in order to resume its historic role in strengthening Arab security. 

Lavrov said he briefed Egypt on an assessment of the ‘Astana Process’ talks, which include Turkey, Russia, and Iran to help resolve the Syrian crisis.

The Russian foreign minister said Egypt and Russia also share a similar stance toward joint efforts to achieve stability in the Gulf region and demilitarise the region from weapons of mass destruction.

Lavrov said Egypt and Russia are currently planning for a new session of the Arab-Russian Cooperation Forum.

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