Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has said that he will meet with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Moscow, Russia, in the next step of stop-start negotiations on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Egyptian state-owned media outlet Al-Ahram reported that in a televised talk El-Sisi also said that many of the statements made about the dam issue by social media users are "exaggerated." He called on all Egyptians to deal with the issue is a calm, wise, and balanced way.
"The leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan met in March 2015 and agreed on some principals regarding the filling and running of the dam in a way that does no harm to Egypt," the president noted.
El-Sisi also said that "if what took place in 2011 hadn't occurred, we would have reached a consensual solution on the GERD and the matter would have been much easier," referring to Egypt's January Revolution of 2011.
Last week El-Sisi congratulated Abiy Ahmed for the Ethiopian leader’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize.
As recently as 5 October, Egypt said the negotiations on the GERD between Egyptian, Sudanese and Ethiopian ministers of irrigation in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum had reached "a dead end” while on the same day the Ethiopian government called Egypt's conditions for filling the Dam "unjustified" and disruptive to "the positive spirit of cooperation."
Egypt held Ethiopia responsible for the failure of the negotiations, saying it "rejected all proposals that would help Egypt avoid serious harms because of the construction of the dam."
Egypt's Foreign Minister (FM) Sameh Shoukry had recently expressed frustration with Ethiopia’s stance on filling the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Shoukry’s comments, in an interview in New York 22 September, comes after the first round in a year of tripartite ministerial negotiations around the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) stalled. A 16 September statement by the Egyptian Ministry of Irrigation said that two-day negotiations among the irrigation ministers of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan focused on procedural matters but did not address technical aspects, and made no breakthrough on impassses.
"The meetings did not touch upon substantive issues because of Ethiopia's refusal to discuss the proposal Egypt offered to the two countries," the ministry said, adding that Ethiopia's delegation refused to discuss a proposal on filling and operating the $5 Billion USD GERD.
Since the breakdown in talks Ethiopian Foreign Ministry has claimed that Egypt’s proposal puts Ethiopia’s sovereignty in question, saying in remarks to Ethiopian News Agency “any move that does not respect Ethiopia’s sovereignty and its right to use the Nile dam has no acceptance.”
The Nile River is essential to lives and livelihoods in Egypt, with a population of 100 million dependent on 55 billion cubic meters of Nile water. Egypt contends that Ethiopia, with a population of approximately 105 million, has access to over 900 billion cubic meters of water from the Ethiopian plateau.
Egypt insists that Ethiopia should fill the dam reservoir over a period of seven years and release 40 billion cubic meters of water every year. However, Ethiopia wants to fill the dam in 3 years and rejected Egypt’s proposal, claiming that it does not “respect current and future rights and development plans of Ethiopia over the Nile and complicates the filling of the dam”.