Monday, July 07, 2014

Egypt-Ethiopia: A new chapter?

(Jul 07, 2014, (Cario))--Egypt and Ethiopia agreed to boost their mutual relations last week when they issued a joint statement that underlined the basic principles governing their relation: Ethiopia will understand the importance of the Nile River to Egypt and Egypt will appreciate the Ethiopian need for development.

The statement presents an important change in the relation between the two countries, according to Hani Raslan, head of the Sudan and Nile Basin countries studies programme at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. However, it remains a step that should be followed by negotiations, which are not expected to be easy and need time and effort.

Helmi Shaarawi, former director of the Arab African Research Centre, views the statement as important and balanced. “But it focused on mutual interests and mutual benefit and refrained from mentioning the historic rights that Egypt adheres to and Addis Ababa refuses to acknowledge,” he said.

In the joint statement issued last week, Egypt and Ethiopia agreed to form a joint committee in the upcoming three months to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries and continue discussions on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The statement was read by Egypt Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri and his Ethiopian counterpart, Tedros Adhanom, last Friday.

The statement, which emphasised the two countries’ commitment to the principles of international law, mutual respect and dialogue, reflected the positive atmosphere in which it was issued. Shoukri described the statement as a “new chapter” in relations between the two countries that provides new momentum for consultation and cooperation.

However the most important steps are the immediate resumption of the Tripartite Commission, the commitment of the Ethiopian government to avoid any potential damage that could result from the dam currently being built on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, and the commitment of the Egyptian government to constructive communication with Ethiopia. Read more from Ahram Online »  

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