It is pointless not to acknowledge Ethiopia's dam: Egypt minister

Ahram Online , Wednesday 1 Jun 2016

Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt is not dealing with the dam issue 'on the basis of suspicion, doubt and exaggerated risks'

File photo: Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry attends a press conference on January 13, 2016 in Berlin (AFP)

Egypt's foreign affairs minister said Tuesday that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has become a reality and that it is "pointless to bury our heads in the sand by not acknowledging a tangible physical reality."

Minister Sameh Shoukry, speaking on the Egyptian El-Hayat TV channel Tuesday night, stated that Egypt is not dealing with the dam "on the basis of suspicion, doubt and exaggerated risks."

Egypt has longed maintained that the dam – currently under construction on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia's highlands –would affect its supply of Nile water.

However, he did emphasise that "there are definitely clear risks [to Egypt], and we are discussing them with our Ethiopian and Sudanese partners" to reach an agreement on how to deal with any harm to Egypt.

The minister did not elaborate on the nature of these risks.

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are currently conducting impact studies on the dam.

There is a "transformation," according to Shoukry, in Ethiopia's approach to the matter ever since the signing of the Malabo agreement in June 2014; signed by Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

The agreement maintained Ethiopia's rights to development.

The foreign affairs minister described that the agreement was a "turning moment," that made Ethiopia willing to join in talks.

Prior to the Malabo agreement, Ethiopia was reluctant to join talks over doubts about Egypt's intentions and goals, Shoukry added.

In June 2013, Egypt's president at the time, Mohamed Morsi, gave a speech on the threats of the dam, saying that a dialogue is the "best means of resolving the crisis."

However, the now-ousted Morsi had also said that a committee had been drawn up to prepare Egypt for the "defence of its security from any possible threat."

Last week, Ethiopian communication Minister Getachew Reda, speaking to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper, said Dam has become a "reality," and "no matter what happens, things will not change."

He added that 50 percent of construction work on the dam had been completed and most of the dam's civil engineering projects were complete.

“When turbines are installed, 70 percent of the project will be complete,” he stated.

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