CAIRO: Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn praised President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s initiative to visit Ethiopia and offer a “new page” to start cooperation between both counties, in a speech in front of the Ethiopian parliament Monday.
“Sisi’s initiative gives us new opportunities to reconstruct relations and common grounds to talk, which is exactly what we wished for. The Nile is a common resource that we all have to fairly share,” he said.
Dessalegn asked his parliament not to doubt Sisi’s intentions through this stage, since “everything will become clearer enough during the joint work between both countries.”
Ethiopia’s construction of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam, that the country claims is essential for the country’s development, presents a threat to Egypt’s due share of Nile water, according to many Egyptian experts and politicians, and the issue has caused a chill in bilateral relations.
Construction on the project began in April 2011, two months after Hosni Mubarak stepped down, and fueled already existing tensions between Egypt and other Nile Basin countries.
The ongoing dam construction became a political albatross for Mohamed Morsi in 2013 as his administration was seen as unable to confront the Ethiopian government.
“Negotiations are the best way to reach compromise with Ethiopia, Sisi used ‘soft power’ strategy with them since truth is good a base to build on. There is no need to worry anymore,” head of Arabian and African researche told Al- Tahrir newspaper last month.
At the African Union summit in Equatorial Guinea, Sisi and Dessalegn stated they would work together to find a solution and assure mutual respect.
Negotiations between Egypt and Ethiopia are scheduled to resume July 21, Minister of Irrigation Hossam Moghazy told Okaz newspaper Monday.
There are, however still some doubts among water specialists that Ethiopia may be trying to earn more time in order to finish its project.
“There is no use for any new negotiations with Ethiopia since they try to take us [Egypt] into an endless road,” Cairo University professor Nader Nour El-Din told Al-Badiel newspaper Sunday.