Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on Ethiopia to not compromise Egypt’s share of the Nile’s water, saying “all options are possible”, while assuring that cooperation is better than tussling.
“I say to our Ethiopian brothers, [we] should not get to a point where you infringe upon a drop of Egypt’s water, because all options are open … cooperation is better … to build with each other is better than to disagree and tussle,” El-Sisi said during the inauguration of a national project in Cairo on Wednesday.
El-Sisi’s remarks came one day after the collapse of the Kinshasa-hosted talks, which aimed in vain to revive the deadlocked negations on the disputed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). It also comes after Ethiopia announced it will move forward with the second filling of the controversial dam in July.
El-Sisi called for taking heed to the cost that results from any confrontation, stressing “cooperation is better than anything else.”
“I felt over the past years that our Ethiopian brothers are not comfortable that the Nile water is flowing into Egypt … This is God’s will, and if Egypt’s land was high, the water would not have come,” he said.
“What God did, no human can change,” El-Sisi stressed.
The president said Egypt and Sudan, the third party of the dispute, will coordinate more in the decade-long issue as per the international laws related to the international river.
“We declare to the world the justice of our cause within the framework of international law and international norms related to international rivers,” he stressed.
He added that Egypt’s stance on the dam project has always been “honourable” as it respected the desire of the Ethiopian people to develop their country.
“I had said in the [Ethiopian] parliament that we appreciate development, provided that it does not affect Egypt’s water interests … and I have never changed my word,” he added.
The president said Egyptians’ concerns about the GERD dispute are valid, noting that he himself has felt worried about the water issue since 25 January 2011.
Ethiopia started building its mega-dam in May 2011, a few months following the Egyptian 25 January Revolution, which unseated the late president Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for 30 years.
El-Sisi called upon Egyptians to participate in confronting the water challenge via helping the country in its recycling water projects and taking care of every drop of water.
Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia participated in a three-day round of talks in the DRC’s Kinshasa to break the deadlock in the GERD negotiations, but the efforts made no progress due to differences over the methodology of negotiations.
The recent efforts to resolve the crisis come amid worries over controversial plans by Addis Ababa to complete the second filling in July without reaching an agreement with Cairo and Khartoum first.
The second filling aims to collect around 18.4 bcm of Blue Nile water, up from the 4.9 bcm secured during the first filling last year.
Egypt, which is already below scarcity level, fears that the swift and unilateral filling of the massive $4.8 billion Ethiopian hydropower project will significantly diminish its crucial water supply.
Egypt’s 100 million-plus population is dependent on the Nile water for 95 percent of its renewable water needs.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said earlier today that Egypt and Sudan will head to the UN and Security Council to brief them on the latest developments in the ten-year-old issue.