Egypt's Coptic Pope Tawadros II (Photo: AP)
Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II held a meeting with Egyptian Christian public figures on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing row over Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam project.
The meeting, which took place at the St. Bishoy Monastery in Wadi Al-Natrun near the coastal city of Alexandria, was attended by representatives of Egypt's main churches, former tourism minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour and former presidential aide Samir Morcos.
According to Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website, meeting attendees discussed means of securing Egypt's share of Nile water, along with plans to raise the issue with the patriarch of the Ethiopian Coptic Orthodox Church. The latter is scheduled to arrive in Egypt on 17 June for a four-day visit.
Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam project has been a source of concern for the Egyptian government, which fears that the project, if completed, could negatively impact the volume of Nile water reaching Egypt.
In late May, Ethiopia began partially diverting the course of the Blue Nile – Egypt's chief source of water – in advance of the new dam's construction.
Following the move, rumours circulated that the Egyptian presidency had requested the intervention of Pope Tawdros II to resolve the problem with Addis Ababa, given the traditionally close ties between Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church and Ethiopia's Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The pope vehemently denied the reports at the time.
In an effort to dispel fears regarding the dam's potential impact on downstream countries – namely Egypt and Sudan – Ethiopian officials have insisted the project would ultimately benefit all the riparian states.
According to Egypt's National Planning Institute, Egypt will require an additional 21 billion cubic metres of water per year by 2050, on top of its current annual allotment of 55 billion cubic metres, to meet the needs of a projected population of 150 million.