Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that there are obstacles threatening the tripartite “Declaration of Principles” signed in March 2015 by Cairo, Sudan and Ethiopia over a dam being built by the latter on the Nile River.

Shoukry’s remarks came in an interview with the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper yesterday, where he said Egypt “couldn’t overcome” these obstacles.

The minister noted that the agreement includes Ethiopia’s acknowledgement of the do-no-harm principle in a document signed with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. The document also stipulates that “Egypt acknowledges the dam and Ethiopia’s developmental needs and Sudan would be a third party in this equation,” Shoukry added.

“The agreement includes the acknowledgement by the three parties that any repercussions resulting from the [construction of] the dam must be approved by a non-biased party so that conflict will not occur, and the non-biased entity would refer to purely scientific considerations, and scientific facts and equations that are not subject to interpretation.”

The Egyptian foreign minister also commented on the technical aspect, pointing to “slowness” and “obstacles” that could not be overcome at the technical or political levels. He said that these obstacles “threaten the principles that the tripartite agreement were based on” without giving details on the nature of those obstacles.

In line with another deal reached in September 2016, the three parties to the agreement are awaiting the results of a technical report that is being prepared by two consulting companies on the Ethiopian dam and the damage it could cause to other countries that share Nile waters, mainly Egypt.

Read: Egypt urges Ethiopia to ‘honour commitments’ on dam

The technical report must be completed before the dam is fully constructed, Shoukry told Al-Ahram, because it will affect any decisions related to the phase of filling the dam and the rules that will be adopted for operating it.

“Achievements on this path are not at the pace we hope for, and we urge our partners in Ethiopia and Sudan to interact in a way that will create confidence, reinforce agreements and avoid any confrontation.”

“At the same time, we know very well what our interests are and the threats that we might be subjected to, and we act in every phase in line with developments. We do not pre-empt events or assume things in a theoretical manner, but that does not mean that we do not prepare ourselves for any orientation, disagreement or approach.”

 

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