Ethiopian Patriarch in Egypt: 'We are united by nature'

Ahram Online , Wednesday 14 Jan 2015

Ethiopian Patriarch Mathias I visited Coptic churches and met Egyptian President El-Sisi during his five-day visit

Egypt's Coptic Pope Tawadros II (L) with the Ethiopian Patriarch Mathias I during a press conference in Cairo, Wednesday 14 January, 2015 (courtesy of Coptic Orthodox Church Spokesperson Facebook page)

Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church on a visit to Egypt said Wednesday that the two countries are "united by nature" through the Nile river and should overcome challenges through their bilateral relations.

"You should help building bridges that transfer truths without distortion," Patriarch Mathias I told a news conference.

The visit comes as Egypt and Ethiopia continue efforts to patch up the relations, which have been tense in recent years since Cairo raised concerns about the effect Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam project on the Blue Nile will have on Egypt’s water supply.

Egypt's Coptic Pope Tawadros II also attended the conference and stated that the Ethiopian and Egyptian churches "surely play a role" in pushing talks forward asserting that "dialogue can solve any problems."

"It is important that everybody works toward building bridges, not only with Ethiopia but with everybody else, a policy we are witnessing with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and the government," Tawadros said.

In his meeting with the Ethiopian patriarch, El-Sisi said the Nile is a “source of life” for Egypt, not just development.

Ethiopia has repeatedly said that Egypt, a downstream country, will not be negatively affected by the under-construction dam. Both countries, along with Sudan, which is also downstream from the dam, have agreed to commission a new report on the effects of the dam by a yet-to-be selected international consultancy firm.

The Ethiopian patriarch visited several Coptic churches and is set to attend the weekly sermon by Tawadros II on Wednesday at St. Mark's Cathedral in Cairo. He also performed the divine liturgy at a Coptic church on Sunday.

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