Egypt’s president, German chancellor urge breaking stalemate in GERD talks to reach binding solution on dam

Ahram Online , Monday 18 Jul 2022

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have underlined the importance of breaking the current stalemate in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) talks to reach a balanced, legally-binding solution on the filling and operation of the dam.

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (R) listens as Egypt s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addresses a joint press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin on July 18, 2022. AFP

El-Sisi met Scholz in Berlin on Monday for the first time since the German chancellor took office in December last year.

During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations, regional and international issues as well as cooperation on the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) that Egypt will host in November, according to Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady.

The talks tackled coordinating efforts between Egypt and Germany on regional and international issues of concern, at the top of which is the Libyan crisis.

This is especially in light of Egypt being a neighbouring country to Libya and the Egyptian efforts to back the Libyan political track. This is in addition to Germany’s significant role in this regard through the Berlin conference on Libya.

El-Sisi and Scholz agreed on consolidating Egyptian-German efforts to settle the situation in Libya in a comprehensive and integrated way that takes into account all aspects of the Libyan crisis.

They also agreed that this should also contribute to eliminating terrorism, protecting the state’s resources and national institutions, and curbing foreign interference.

Over the past years, Egypt has worked along with international partners and Libyan officials to help find a political settlement to the longstanding crisis in its western neighbour and to restore order in the country by holding elections.

Egypt has participated in various events that aimed to settle the Libyan crisis, including the first and second Berlin conferences in 2020 and 2021, and also hosted a set of meetings to bridge the gap between various Libyan parties and to foster dialogue.

Bilateral relations, economic ties

El-Sisi hailed the qualitative progress currently seen in Egyptian-German relations in various fields, and he affirmed Egypt’s aspiration to maximise bilateral cooperation in the coming period.

The president also stressed Egypt’s keenness to enhance political coordination with Germany and exchange visions on various issues of mutual concern.

For his part, Scholz praised the significant progress in relations with Egypt in recent years, especially in economic relations and trade.

The chancellor affirmed that Egypt is one of Germany’s most important partners in the Middle East and is a fundamental pillar for stability and security in the region.

El-Sisi expressed keenness for further German engagement in Egypt’s priority development plans through the mechanisms of the various German development institutions.

Egypt also aspires to double German investments in the country, especially in its mega national projects, El-Sisi added.

The volume of trade exchange between Egypt and Germany reached 5.1 billion euros in 2021, according to recent figures released by the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry.

German investments in Egypt amounted to $300.2 million during FY2020/21, up by more than 12 percent from the previous fiscal year, according to Egypt’s statistical agency CAPMAS.

The number of German companies working in Egypt is 1,180 with total investments of $7.1 billion in energy, railways, industry, and tourism, Chairman of the General Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) Ibrahim El-Araby said on Sunday.

During their talk, Scholz expressed Germany’s keenness to back the ambitious measures Egypt is taking to achieve comprehensive development, especially by boosting investments, transferring technology, and localising German industry in Egypt.

The leaders agreed to work on achieving successful models of partnership between Egypt and the giant German companies similar to that which already exists with German company Siemens.

Late in May, Egypt signed a contract with German train manufacturer Siemens Mobility to build about 2,000 kilometres of high-speed railway in the country, the sixth largest of its kind in the world.

The railway is planned to connect 60 cities nationwide via trains that can operate at up to 230 km/hour.

The country’s first high-speed rail network will include three lines and will enable about 500 million journeys annually, the company said, noting that the network will be accessible by around 90 percent of Egyptians.

El-Sisi and Scholz discussed ways of boosting their bilateral cooperation, especially in liquified natural gas, clean energy, green hydrogen, and developing the basic education system in Egypt.

Cooperation on COP27

The leaders also discussed cooperation and coordination on Egypt’s hosting of the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in November this year in Sharm El-Sheikh city.

Scholz expressed wishes for Egypt to succeed in hosting this giant international event and to ensure a tangible outcome that would enhance international climate work.

During COP27, Egypt will focus on a number of important issues, especially regarding adaptation in Africa and financing African efforts to face climate change, El-Sisi affirmed.

El-Sisi attended in Berlin today the 13th edition of the Petersburg Climate Dialogue co-chaired by Egypt and Germany as the last international stop ahead of COP27.

In a speech at the High-Level Session of the Petersburg Climate Dialogue, El-Sisi asserted that Egypt seeks to make COP27 a turning point to maintain international momentum and affirm the commitment of all governmental and non-governmental parties to turn their promises and pledges to actions on the ground.

El-Sisi said the current global crises place a great responsibility on the international community to address climate change and achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and the outcomes of the UN Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow last year.

He added that Egypt will be hosting COP27 amid successive challenges, primarily the current global energy crisis and the food crisis many developing countries are suffering from.

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