Moscow urged Ethiopia to consider Egypt’s concerns about GERD: Russian ambassador

Ahram Online , Wednesday 26 Jul 2023

Russian Ambassador to Cairo Georgy Borisenko revealed on Tuesday that Russia had contacted Ethiopia "several times" and urged it to consider Egypt's concerns regarding the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

Russian Ambassador to Cairo
Russian Ambassador to Cairo Georgy Borisenko in his interview MBC Misr 2 on Tuesday. Photo : Al-Ahram


"Russia has addressed its Ethiopian partners several times in order for them to take into account the Egyptians' concerns about the dam," Borisenko said during an interview on MBC Masr satellite channel 2 which aired on Tuesday.

"We told them that… it is necessary to find mutually beneficial solutions," the Russian ambassador added.

He said that Moscow fully understands Egypt's position on the dam and knows that the Nile waters play an existential role in the lives of Egyptians.

Egypt and Sudan have been negotiating with Ethiopia since 2011 to reach a legally binding and comprehensive deal on the filling and operation of the GERD.

In October 2019, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to mediate the issue, just a few days after Ethiopia affirmed it would not accept any outside mediation in its tripartite talks with Sudan and Egypt.

However, in 2020, Ethiopia withdrew from the talks and began unilaterally filling the dam.

In July 2023, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met for the first time since 2019.

According to a joint statement following their meeting in Cairo, El-Sisi and Ahmed stressed a joint commitment to reaching an agreement, along with Sudan, on the filling and operation of the GERD within four months.

Borisenko’s interview comes ahead of the second edition of the Russia-Africa summit that is going to be held on 27-28 July in St. Petersburg, which both El-Sisi and Ahmed are attending.

According to Borisenko, the summit will discuss global stability, food security, and the fight against terrorism.

Dabaa power plant

The Russian ambassador revealed that the construction of the Dabaa nuclear power plant in Egypt is on track to be operational by the end of 2030.

The plant, which is being built by Russia's Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, will have four reactors with a capacity of 4,800 MW. It is the biggest nuclear power plant built by the energy giant outside Russia.

Borisenko said that the construction of the plant is progressing well and that there are no delays. The first reactor is expected to be completed in 2026, the second in 2027, the third in 2028, and the fourth in 2029, he added.

He also said that the construction of the Russian industrial zone at the Suez Economic Zone is expected to start soon.

Borisenko explained that the industrial zone will help to boost economic cooperation between Russia and Egypt and will help to create jobs in both countries. Russia intends to invest more than $7 billion to establish the zone, generating about 35,000 jobs for locals.

He added that the industrial zone will also help to promote trade between Russia and Egypt.

Reducing dollar dependence

Borisenko said that using national currencies rather than the dollar for trade between both countries would be "very beneficial," as they are both facing political and economic challenges.

"Using the euro or the US dollar in international trade is not safe," he said.

"We hope that the Egyptian pound and the Russian ruble will be used in projects, in order to boost trade and increase trade exchange between us."

Egypt's exports to Russia rose by 21 percent to $544.1 million in the January-November 2022 period, up from $449.4 million during the same period in 2021, according to data from the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).


Borisenko also said that Russia supports Egypt's bid to join the BRICS group of emerging economies.

"Cairo will be an important member of BRICS, as it will represent the Arab and African community," he said, adding that "Egypt has a large economy."

Concerning Russia-US relations, the ambassador added that Russia is waiting for its US partners to change their policies before engaging in dialogue with them.

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