The Renaissance Dam would not affect Egypt’s share of the Nile water and both countries would benefit from it, Mahmoud Dirir said in a recent interview with Xinhua.
“Mutual interests between the two states connect their future, and the minor issues that rise sometimes cannot affect their relations,” said the ambassador, describing ties with Egypt as “historic and eternal.”
“Even the diplomatic relations between both countries date back 85 years, when most African states were under Western occupation,” he added.
In May, Ethiopia started diverting the course of the Blue Nile, one of the Nile River’s two basic tributaries, as a first preparatory step for building its aspired Grand Renaissance Dam. The move raised concerns in Egypt over its annual share of 55.5 billion cubic meters of river water as a downstream Nile Basin country.
Some Egyptian experts said the planned Ethiopian dam would cause great harms to Egypt, including shortage of Nile water, drying agricultural lands, increasing Nile Delta soil salinity, and reducing Egypt’s High Dam power generation.
Dirir reassured that the dam would not inflict any harm to the Egyptian interests and the country’s share of water. “It will have a positive effect in terms of development, not a negative one as some claim,” he said, noting that any project of this kind established in Africa is meant to serve African development in general. “Diverting the Nile course was a normal preparatory step that was not a surprise for the Egyptian side; the same was even done by Egypt and Sudan when they built their dams in the past,” the ambassador said. “This dam will be useful for all,” he added, saying reduction of large quantities of Nile water vaporization is among the advantages of the intended dam.
The ambassador said studies made by international experts showed that the dam was not a “catastrophe with great harms,” adding that Ethiopia had set up a tripartite committee with Egypt and Sudan on the issue. “We have studies and recommendations made by the concerned committee that will be seriously addressed,” the diplomat said. “What is needed is only studies about the environmental and social effects of the dam and the Ethiopian experts are working earnestly on that.”
He criticized some Egyptian media for distorting the image of the dam and depicting Ethiopia as “a rival state” that builds a dam by Israeli finance and management. “We believe that permanent development and real partnership between Egypt and Ethiopia will wash away such suspicions,” Dirir said. Egypt recently expressed “deep concerns” over Ethiopia’s not responding to its previous call for an urgent meeting on July 18 in Cairo over the dam issue.
On Sunday, Egypt’s newly-appointed Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy discussed the issue with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom via a phone call, stressing the importance of holding the agreed technical consultations among Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan to implement the committee’s recommendations.
“There is no reason for being concerned, as high level communications are going on between the foreign ministers of Ethiopia and Egypt,” Dirir said, adding that the meeting will be arranged and convened and the recommendations of the committee will be addressed. “The dam could be a win-win situation,” he said. “The future and destiny of both Ethiopia and Egypt are intertwined by strong, inseparable, historical bonds.”
This article originally appeared on globaltimes.cn 23/07/2013