Ethiopia's vows of not harming Nile flow to Egypt should translate into binding deal, says Sisi

Amr Kandil , Tuesday 12 Oct 2021

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Ethiopians' confirmation of not attempting to affect water flow to Egypt through the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) should translate into a legally-binding agreement with Egypt and Sudan.

Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (L) participates in a press conference with his Hungarian counterpart, President J nos der, 12 October 2021. Egyptian Presidency

In a press conference in Budapest with Hungarian President János Áder on Tuesday, El-Sisi said Egypt only seeks to ensure obtaining its annual water share without any harm.

"The Ethiopian brothers' statements that they will not attempt to affect the water flow to Egypt are great, but should, most importantly, translate into a legally-binding agreement [with the three countries] on the filling and operation of the dam," El-Sisi said.

El-Sisi affirmed that Egypt "does not want water to be a reason for conflicts, problems or clash, but to be used in development and cooperation among each other".

Egypt has repeatedly expressed concerns over its water share as Ethiopia has resisted Egypt and Sudan's demand to reach a binding deal on the operation and filling of the GERD that would preserve their water interests.

As African-Union sponsored talks have failed to reach a deal, with Egypt and Sudan blaming the failure on Ethiopia's intransigence, El-Sisi earlier this year has reiterated that Egypt will not give up "any drop" of its water share.

He warned that "all options are open" if Egypt's water is affected, affirming that Egypt's response in this case "will affect the stability of the whole region".

During the presser, the president said Egypt relies on the River Nile as the sole source of water, affirming that Egypt suffers from water scarcity and falls below the "water poverty line" with less than 500 cubic metres of water for each individual annually.

Egypt's share of the Nile stands at 55.5 billion cubic metres that provides more than 95 percent of its waters.

El-Sisi, during the presser, said Egypt's civilization over thousands of years have only relied on the River Nile, adding that 85-95 percent of Egyptian lands are dry desert lands.

El-Sisi said Egypt's huge program to treat used water and desalinate sea water comes at a cost of about $80 billion.

The Egyptian president hailed Hungary's scientific and developmental capabilities in reusing water.

Áder said he discussed with El-Sisi expanding ongoing cooperation in the water field and exploring other cooperation horizons in this regard.

Áder said Hungary's cooperation with Egypt in the water field dates back to 1926 when Hungary's manufacturer Ganz EEPM delivered pumping stations to Egypt.

According to the company’s website, Ganz EEPM has delivered more than 200 complete pumping stations to Egypt since that date.

Áder said Egypt is Hungary's most important economic and strategic partner in the Arab world and is a 'safety valve' that ensures stability in the entire region.

The Hungarian president hailed the role played by Egypt earlier this year to end the conflict in the Gaza Strip in a short time.

In May, Egypt sponsored a ceasefire deal between Israel and Palestinian factions to end an 11-day episode of Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip, during which more than 250 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed.

Egypt also pledged $500 million for the reconstruction of Gaza in the aftermath of the Israeli attacks.

El-Sisi has started on Monday an official visit to Budapest, where he attended a summit for the Visegrád Group (V4), during which he tackled Egypt's efforts to fight terrorism and block illegal immigration to Europe.

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