Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Ethiopia's plan to go ahead unilaterally with the second filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will constitute a violation to international law and the 2015 Declaration of Principles that was signed by Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.
In remarks to MBC Masr’s Al-Hekaya TV show hosted by Amr Adib on Friday, Shoukry affirmed the second phase of the Ethiopian dam filling will “definitely have a degree of harm” to Egypt.
However, Shoukry stressed that Egypt will not accept any harm to the Egyptian citizens and will take patient and wise procedures that go in line with the “patient and wise” policy Egypt adopts in resolving other issues.
Ethiopia has affirmed its determination to go ahead with the second filling of the GERD in the upcoming rainy season that starts in July under any circumstances, despite demands from Egypt and Sudan that Addis Ababa sign a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam before a next filling.
Egypt on Thursday slammed the Ethiopian intention to carry out the second filling plan, saying the move shows again Ethiopia’s "bad intentions” and efforts to undermine the mediators’ role to reach a deal.
“If the second filling is carried out unilaterally without a comprehensive agreement on the [dam] filling and operation that regulates this matter in accordance with other experiments nationwide, Ethiopia will then violate its commitments under the Declaration of Principles,” Shoukry told Al-Hekaya.
He noted that Ethiopia in this case will also “disavow the several pledges it made about its endeavor to reach an agreement."
The 2015 Declaration of Principles, which was signed by Cairo, Khartoum and Addis Ababa, granted Ethiopia the consent of the two downstream countries of Egypt and Sudan to the construction of the dam in return for a pledge from Ethiopia not to inflict any harm on the downstream countries.
Shoukry's remarks to MBC supplanted his assertion on Wednesday the second filling "will not affect Egypt’s water interests" since "the country can adopt tight measures in managing its water resources."
On Friday, Shoukry reiterated the Egyptian stance in the GERD dispute that Cairo will not tolerate any harm to its water interests or share and is capable of defending its rights.
He said the state’s authorities continuously assess the harm the second filling constitutes, affirming that “any unilateral act will constitute a degree of harm”.
Shoukry added "there is some harm Egypt is able to endure" so that "the Ethiopian brothers can achieve their developmental goals.
He warned, however, that "other forms of harm would be unbearable" and would “forebode tensions and repercussions that we try to avert.
Shoukry warned that these repercussions will lead to “tensions in the region and a quarreling relation and will cause instability in East African and the Horn of Africa”.
"We have tried very hard to avoid these matters but, again, we made it clear that Egypt will not give up its water rights and will not accept any harm due to an irresponsible behavior,” Shoukry said.
The top Egyptian diplomat said Egypt has given a wider role for the international partners as observers, including the United States, the European Union and the United Nations due to their experience and so that they witness the stances of each of the nations.
Shoukry affirmed that Egypt seeks to reach an agreement, which he says is not elusive.
Asked what is considered to be Egypt’s "red line" and the point that Egypt will run "out of patience" if reached, Shoukry said “it is not useful to make a definitive statement about this at this moment."
The minister said “in this stage we focus on the desire to reach an agreement”, but also reiterated that the Egyptian state has the tools that would enable it to defend its interests.
Shoukry said these tools are “varied, progressive and have many ways that are taken according to a carefully drawn-out plan that eventually takes into account the Egyptian interest".