Egypt Watch

Egypt retracts foreign minister’s sensational statements on GERD

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned Ethiopia against continuing to fill the Renaissance Dam unilaterally during the next flood season, which is the summer of this year, affirming Cairo’s commitment to securing the interests and rights of the Egyptian people. This came in a strongly worded statement issued by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in response to what Ethiopia said about completing the filling of the Renaissance Dam, even if the three countries did not reach an agreement on filling and operating the Renaissance Dam.

According to the statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, Ambassador Ahmed Hafez, confirmed Egypt’s rejection of any unilateral Ethiopian measures regarding the Renaissance Dam. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman considered that the statements of the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry official spokesman about the second filling without an agreement reveal that Ethiopia is acting in bad faith again. He added that Ethiopia seeks to abort the ongoing efforts by international and African mediators to solve the Renaissance Dam crisis and its desire to impose a fait accompli on the two downstream countries, something that Egypt has not and will not accept.

He explained that Egypt has been patient and acted wisely and responsibly. It negotiated for a whole decade seriously and in good faith to reach a fair and legally binding agreement on the Renaissance Dam in a way that achieves the common interests of the three countries. According to Hafez, the Ethiopian side pursued a policy of stalling and procrastination, which led to the failure of the negotiation tracks during the past years.

The spokesman considered Ethiopia’s continued filling of the Renaissance Dam unilaterally as an irresponsible act that is a clear violation of the provisions of the Declaration of Principles Agreement signed between the three countries in March 2015. Hafez emphasised that the second filling of the Renaissance Dam, which is scheduled to be implemented next July, will expose the two downstream countries to significant risks, especially if it coincides with periods of drought.

The Egyptian statement contradicts statements by Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry made a few days ago. He confirmed that the second filling of the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam would not affect Egypt’s water interests. Shoukry’s statements sparked widespread criticism and controversy among observers in Egypt, while Ethiopia received them with a standing ovation, saying it was a great victory.