Egypt: FM - We Handle GERD Crisis Transparently, Update Egyptians On Developments

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Saturday 12/6/2021 the Egyptian government is handling the crisis of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with full transparency.

The government keeps Egyptian people updated about the latest developments related to the GERD negotiations, he told Sada Al Balad TV channel in an interview.

He pointed out that his recent meeting with the Sudanese irrigation minister aimed to place emphasis on the need to coordinate with Sudan to counter the negative impacts of the second filling of the dam.

The government follows up on all GERD-linked technical aspects, data and developments and assesses the dam-related phases, he said.

The minister stressed that Egypt and Sudan will work strictly to counter any negative unilateral actions on part of Ethiopia and will take all necessary steps to protect the interests of both countries.

Egypt always hopes that a breakthrough will take place in the GERD crisis, stressing that Cairo and Khartoum have showed a lot of flexibility to settle this issue, he said.

Regarding the international community's stance on the GERD issue, the minister said the UN secretary general had expressed the international community's concern over the second filling of the dam and its repercussions on the region.

"We are contacting all partners, including the US envoy, the European Union and the United Nations, to coordinate for solving the crisis," he added.

The minister said "we are in a critical stage as Ethiopia is about to declare the start of the second filling."

"This measure will have an impact on the negotiating path, but we will wait and see," he said.

On the 40-year compensations for protection of the Nile River that was requested by Ethiopia, the minister said such demands are unacceptable and contradict the rules of international law and have no international references.

He asserted that Ethiopia breached the 2015 declaration of principles and rejected to respond to solutions offered by African countries to settle the dam crisis.

With regards to negotiations on water shares, the top diplomat said the negotiations only concentrate on reaching a binding agreement between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the filling and operation of the dam.

The minister reaffirmed that the second filling of the dam is politically rejected, while Egypt and Sudan will take all available steps to protect their water interests.

Commenting on resorting to the UN Security Council, he said all options are on the table.

On Egyptian-Turkish relations, the minister said Egypt currently assesses Turkish policies since Cairo proposed some files that Turkey should take into account to remove all obstacles that hinder building mutual relations.

He reaffirmed that Egypt always works to build close relations with its regional and international partners properly.

Egypt is working on exploring how Ankara is ready to have relations with Cairo on proper bases and its compliance with the international law, the minister added.

Regarding the files of Libya, Eastern Mediterranean and Muslim Brotherhood, Shoukry said these files are of great importance for Egypt's security and stability, stressing that the Egyptian security cannot be crossed.

On relations with Turkey, Shoukry stressed the necessity that Ankara be away from anything that destabilizes Egypt's security. "This is a sacred matter."

The foreign minister pointed out that if Turkey did not extradite Muslim Brotherhood members to Egypt or close MB-affiliated TV channels, the situation would be more difficult, adding all these policies are being monitored and ties could be normally resumed in case of any progress.

Cyprus and Greece are not upset with the Egyptian-Turkish rapprochement, he underlined, saying: "We are informing them about all the developments in the Eastern Mediterranean region."

As for the Qatari file, Shoukry said Egypt implements what had been reached in Al-Ula agreement, saying committees had been formed to restore the Egypt-Qatar ties to normal.

He described the political relations between the two countries as positive, saying that another development will take place next week and will have impact on the relations.

The foreign minister stressed that the rights of Egyptians who sacrificed themselves in defense of their homeland will not be relinquished.

The two countries are positively working on removing the boycott repercussions, the top diplomat noted, saying Qatar's response to Egypt's demands is being assessed.

Regarding the invitation of the Qatari emir to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to visit Doha, Shoukry said the invitation is appreciated and the visit will be paid in its right timing within the diplomatic framework.

Concerning the situation in the Gaza Strip, Shoukry said Egypt has shouldered the responsibility of supporting the Palestinian people and their cause over the past seven decades.

"The Gazans deserve support and better living conditions to continue their march towards achieving their aspirations of establishing an independent state," he said.

As for the coming Israeli government, the foreign minister underscored that Egypt would deal with any government based on the normal ties between countries and pushing forward peace to achieve the two-state solution on the 1967 borders.

Commenting on reports about Israeli demands asking Egypt to stop sending cement and equipment to the enclave, the top diplomat noted that President Sisi ordered $500-million aid for Gaza reconstruction in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and Israeli government.

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