Head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II on Saturday said he prays that all diplomatic and political efforts to find a solution to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute succeed in order to avert any other options.
Egypt and Sudan have been pursuing diplomatic and political options for a decade now to resolve the GERD dispute with Ethiopia.
The two downstream countries call for a legally-binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam to avoid any harmful implications on their water interests.
Ethiopia, on the other side, reiterated its plans to fill the dam this summer with or without an agreement despite the two countries’ objections.
In his sermon while leading the Easter Mass at St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo’s Abbassiya district, the pope invited the GERD parties to seek peace and a consensual solution that ensures development for their peoples away from intransigence.
“We all want to live in a state of peace, prosperity and development and, always, life teaches us that battles do not bear fruit,” Pope Tawadros said.
He also invited “sisterly” Ethiopia to cooperate for development “instead of any distress, dispute or troubles” and “for the sake of all those peoples who have lived on African lands for hundreds and thousands of years”.
The pope said the Coptic Orthodox Church supports the Egyptian state in its endeavour to find a fair solution that would serve the peoples of Egypt and Sudan.
“As a national Coptic Orthodox Church, we stand by the state and hail the role of the political leadership in its endeavours to find a comprehensive and fair solution to the water issue,” he said.
This solution should “ensure the right of the Egyptian and Sudanese peoples to life that has been granted by God,” he added.
The Easter Mass at St Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral was held with limited attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. Only some bishops, priests and a limited number of people were present at the mass under strict precautionary measures.
In his sermon, Pope Tawadros said he prays that coronavirus ends and that God grants strength to the workers at the medical sector, calling them “the first line in facing this pandemic”.
“We pray for the sake of the grieving families and for the infected people so that God may bless them with recovery,” the pope said.
He also extended his condolences to the families of medical workers who lost their lives while doing their job, including treating coronavirus patients.
Egypt is currently suffering from a third coronavirus wave and the new daily infection toll has topped 1,000 since 27 April for the first time since 9 January.
The country has so far vaccinated around 900,000 people against the pandemic, Mohamed Abdel-Fattah, the undersecretary of the health ministry's Preventive Medicine Department, told media on Saturday.