8 March 2014

Ethiopia: "We Never Glance At Egypt's Cheap Propaganda"

In an exclusive interview he had with The Reporter, Alemayehu Tegenu, Ethiopia's Minister of Water, Irrigation and Energy,

stressed that his country would not be engaging in a diplomatic-style skirmish with Egypt, which is said to be currently working round the clock to halt the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GRED).

Egypt's Irrigation Minister Mahmoud Abdel-Muttalib denounced what he described as Ethiopia's "obstinacy" towards building the Renaissance Dam. He had resorted for his nation to use "force as an alternative." He also said that Egypt might send an official statement demanding that construction of the Ethiopian dam be halted until a mutually agreeable solution is found.

Following the switch on the tripartite negotiation- involving Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan- aimed at finding mechanisms to implement the International Panel of Experts IPoE recommendations on the future of the GRED, Egypt is campaigning against the construction of the Dam. Sources disclose that different Egyptian Diplomatic teams led by higher officials have reached out to Eritrea, China, Russia, Italy and others.

Responding to a question forwarded by The Reporter regarding Ethiopia's engagement in response to Egypt officials' campaign against the GRED, Mr. Alemayehu denounced the move and assured that Ethiopia would only do its own homework regardless of the motivation entailed by the politicians based on the rationale of principles set out from the out set. "Our stand is clear from the out set. We are struggling against poverty. We are developing our river based on fair and rational principles. In an unusual way, we took the risk to the extent of presenting the project document to IPoE for investigation. The Egyptians are now busy with cheap propaganda."

IPoE confirmed the dam fulfills international standards and doesn't inflict any significant harm against Egypt. The water experts committee also concluded that the dam meets international standards, forwarding a couple of recommendations among the states in question.

Alemayehu underlined that his country is always keen to cooperate both with Egypt and Sudan but accused Egypt for stilting the tripartite negotiation, intentionally taking negations back to the start. He also denounced the campaign thereafter by Egyptian officials across the world saying "It is nonsense and impractical." He stressed, "whatever happens, there is no possibility of the construction of the dam stops."

The Minister went on to comment, "the matter is not the dam. Egyptian politicians are trying to externalize their internal political problems towards Ethiopia. Time and time again we we have expressed that it doesn't help to live in the past." Ethiopia's Renaissance Dam project is a $4.2 billion hydroelectric dam on the Abay, one of the main tributaries of the Nile.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan formed a tripartite technical committee to study the possible effects of the dam and try to generate consensus on the project. Ethiopia maintains that Egypt's water share will not be decreased by the successful completion of the dam.

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