GERD an existential issue for Egypt; we're always ready for dialogue to resolve the dispute: FM Shoukry

Ahram Online , Wednesday 25 May 2022

Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry stated that Cairo is always ready for dialogue on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue, describing the file as an existential issue and a matter of national security for Egypt and its people.

The Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) saw one of its 13 turbines started power generating on Sunday, February 20, 2022. (Photo courtesy of the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs)


Shoukry made the statements to Sky News Arabia on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Tuesday.

“[Previously exerted] efforts have not yielded a legally binding agreement regarding the GERD’s filing and operation policies, nevertheless, Cairo is working hard to push forward matters in order to reach an agreement that [simultaneously] allows Ethiopia to develop and safeguards Egypt’s rights,” the minister said.

Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia for almost a decade now to reach a legally binding and comprehensive agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD, which Addis Ababa started building on the Blue Nile in 2010.

Cairo and Khartoum have blamed the failure of the talks on Ethiopian “intransigence” and refusal to sign any legally binding deal.

The latest round of African Union (AU)-sponsored talks between the three countries over the GERD in Kinshasa, DRC collapsed in April 2021, and all attempts to revive the negotiations since have failed.

Egypt’s top diplomat also told Sky News Arabia that Cairo closely follows up on the issue with international partners, but there have been no positive results so far.

Egypt is always prepared for dialogue and is ready to resume negotiations to settle this issue, Shoukry stressed.

Deadlock lingers

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly affirmed earlier in 2022 that Cairo is interested in resuming negotiations with Sudan and Ethiopia and resolving technical and legal points of contention to reach a balanced deal.

Egypt — which relies mainly on the Nile for its water needs — fears that the unilateral operation of the GERD and the filling of its 74-billion-cubic-metre reservoir will negatively impact its water supply, while Sudan is concerned the GERD will harm the regulation of flows to its own dams and their safety.

On the other hand, Ethiopia says the project — which will generate 5,250 megawatts of electricity when completed — is essential for producing electricity and economic development, repeatedly downplaying the concerns of Cairo and Khartoum.

Egypt has repeatedly stated that it has no objections to Ethiopia using the dam to generate the electricity it needs for its development plans.

However, Cairo said it opposes any action that compromises its already inadequate share of Nile water or changes its patterns. 

Previously, Madbouly stressed that developments in Nile Basin countries were a priority for Egypt, stressing that Cairo has provided aid and expertise to help promote development and secure stability for its neighbours.

In February, Ethiopia, which had unilaterally completed the first and second filling of the dam, announced that the first turbine of the GERD has begun generating power.

The Ethiopian News Agency said at the time that the first turbine is generating 375 megawatts, with the second turbine set to operate soon.

In response, Egypt said the unilateral decision to start  power generation from the GERD is another violation of the Declaration of Principles (DoP) signed between Addis Ababa, Cairo, and Khartoum in 2015.

Libyan development

Concerning the developments in Libya, Shoukry told Sky News Arabia that Egypt was exerting huge efforts to ensure the success of the Libyan reconciliation process.

“We are providing all means of supports to our Libyan brothers in order to bring the views of the different powers and parties there closer to ensure the formation of an elected government, president, and legislative council that represent the wellbeing of the Libyan people and meet their hopes as well as protect the country from foreign intervention,” Shoukry told the Emirati-based news channel.

In a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 17 May, Egypt urged all Libyan parties to exercise restraint and refrain from taking any steps that can fuel violence after clashes erupted earlier in the day between rival powers in the Libyan capital.

Cairo contacted Libyan and international parties to prevent possible military escalation in Tripoli and urge Libyan parties to avoid armed clashes, sources told Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news website, noting that parliament-appointed Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha pledged to Cairo that his side would exercise restraint and avoid escalation.


When asked about the 27th edition of the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP27) that will be held in Sharm El-Sheikh this November, Shoukry — who is also the president-designate of the COP27 — said that the conference will focus on fulfilling international commitments that were made in previous editions of the conference.

He also said that the COP27 will focus on fostering cooperation between the public and private sectors to provide the needed sources to achieve food security and to face climate change.

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