Egypt prepared to handle negative impact of GERD's second filling: Foreign minister tells MPs

Gamal Essam El-Din , Thursday 15 Apr 2021

Shoukry said a high Nile flood scenario this summer will help contain the damage caused by the GERD

Sameh Shoukry
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told Egyptian MPs on Thursday that Egypt's High Dam and its water reservoir will allow the country to absorb the negative impact of the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

"I say this from a purely technical point of view," Shoukry said.

Addressing members of the House of Representatives' African affairs committee, Shoukry said a high Nile flood scenario this summer will help contain the damage caused by the GERD.

"A high Nile water flood will help us refill the Aswan Dam's reservoir and so will contain the damage of the second filling of Ethiopia's dam," he added.

"We imagine that the GERD will not cause damage to Egypt, but if there [is damage], all the country's authorities will be prepared to handle it because they have the resources necessary in this respect."

"This is an existential issue and a matter of life for the Egyptian people, and so we deal with it in a highly serious way," Shoukry said, indicating that "all concerned state authorities are following up on this file day by day and are making delicate evaluations on the ground."

However, Shoukry indicated that Sudan might suffer more damage.

"We are greatly worried about the possible damage which our brothers in Sudan might face from the second filling of the dam three months from now, and we are not happy with this," said Shoukry.

As for Egypt, Shoukry said, "technical evaluations show that the damage from the second filling of Ethiopia's dam will be limited."

"This is an expectation only, but everything will be governed by studies and assessment of actual developments on the ground," he said.

Shoukry said Egypt is committed to participating in the GERD negotiations in order to reach a solution to the crisis.

"The failure of the latest round of negotiations in Kinshasa was largely due to Ethiopia's intransigence, and so the efforts exerted did not achieve the desired result and now we call for dealing with this issue in accordance with international law and in a way that will cause only very limited damage on the two upstream countries – Egypt and Sudan."

According to Shoukry, "the international community is closely monitoring Ethiopia's intransigence and so when Egypt resorts to the international community it should be clear to all that it has run out of all solutions and so has the right to stand up to the unilateral actions from the Ethiopian side."

However, Shoukry said that "despite the Ethiopian intransigence, there is still a chance for more GERD negotiations, and in this respect we are trying to support the roles of experts and negotiators from the European Union and the United States to find solutions for technical issues."

He said Ethiopia is planning to build other dams on the Blue Nile, but these should be governed by international treaties on cross-border rivers.

"Ethiopia has so far refused to provide Egypt and Sudan with any studies related to GERD building," said Shoukry.

Shoukry told MPs that Egypt is keen on reinforcing its relations with African countries.

"There was a period of severed relations with African countries following the attempt on former president Hosni Mubarak's life in Addis Ababa in 1995.

"Our current strategy is based on promoting cooperation with our African brothers and this explains why President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has been keen to attend African summits since 2014."

“President El-Sisi has also paid repeated visits to African countries, and in Cairo he received a lot of African officials, not to mention that the Egyptian Agency for Development is playing a central role in different sectors in Africa and in a way that aims to build strong relations with African nations," said Shoukry, adding that "despite the low budget of the Egyptian Agency for Development, it was able to play a massive role in providing Africans with all kinds of services and development projects."

Sherif El-Gabaly, head of the House's African relations committee, said that Egypt should focus on promoting cultural relations with Africa and playing strong roles inside major African commercial institutions such as COMESA.

Shoukry also said that the Egyptian embassy in Eritrea is holding daily talks with officials there to secure the release of Egyptian fishermen who were detained there four months ago.

"Unfortunately, we did not have any response from the Eritrean side on this issue," said Shoukry, adding that he is ready to arrange a visit by an Egyptian parliamentary delegation to Eritrea to discuss this issue.

"I think you can also invite the ambassador of Eritrea in Cairo and the deputy foreign minister for African affairs to talk to you about this problem," said Shoukry.

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