Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi directed a message to the Ethiopian people to keep their homeland safe and to prevent any attempts of division.
Al-Sisi held a meeting Wednesday with a Public Diplomacy delegation headed by Vice President of the Federal Council Mohammed Rashid. Al-Sisi said that while such a situation should not take place again, the length of time an Egyptian president had not visited Ethiopia reflects the sensitivity of the water issue. This subject requires careful attention and shared political will, Al-Sisi added.
Rashid expressed gratitude for Al-Sisi’s visit to Ethiopia and delivering a speech before the Ethiopian parliament. He said that the signing of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) inaugurated a new era of relations between Egypt and Ethiopia based on cooperation and understanding.
The delegation pointed out that this cooperation will be a “model for relationships of understanding between African countries”.
Delegation members also said the two countries need to move forward in deepening their cooperation for fair usage of the resources of the Nile River.
They highlighted the central role of the media, which can be made use of for more positivity and enhancing mutual trust. The media can also be used to explain and communicate facts to the Egyptian and Ethiopian peoples to serve the sincere efforts that are being made at the official level, the delegation said.
The talks also witnessed praise from the Ethiopian side for the results of the recent Economic Summit in Egypt. They showed appreciation for his visit occurring shortly after the summit’s end on 15 March, “which demonstrates the importance [Al-Sisi] gives to the relations between Egypt and Ethiopia”.
Al-Sisi warned of the consequences of the spread of terrorism and extremist thinking, especially the exploitation of differences in religion, alluding to the importance of the role of religious scholars in facing extremist ideology.
The delegation which met with Al-Sisi included civil representatives as well as parliamentarians, religious leaders, writers, artists, professors and members of research centres. The meeting was also attended by the Egyptian ambassador in Addis Ababa and the Ethiopian Ambassador to Cairo.
In another meeting, Al-Sisi discussed terrorism concerns with Ethiopian Orthodox Church Patriarch Mathias, stressing the need for the spirit of love and tolerance between the Egyptian and Ethiopian peoples.
The meeting came “under President Al-Sisi’s efforts to enhance cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia at all levels”, state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram said.
Pope Mathias expressed his delight with his visit to Egypt two months ago, during which he met with Al-Sisi, Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb, and Pope Tawadros II. He praised what he felt was the genuine desire of the Egyptian people to open a new page in relations between Egypt and Ethiopia.
During a Tuesday interview aired on Ethiopian television, Al-Sisi conveyed greetings from the Egyptian people to Ethiopians. He stressed that through dialogue and cooperation, both countries can take into account the interests of each other without inflicting harm.
Al-Sisi also congratulated the Ethiopian people for their “responsible…and open minded Prime Minister”.
After years of diplomatic dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the GERD project, Al-Sisi signed a “good intentions” agreement Monday in Khartoum.
The agreement sets the principles of cooperation between the two downstream countries Egypt and Sudan, and upstream Ethiopia.
Ethiopia began constructing the GERD in 2011. Although Egypt had previously refused the dam’s storage capacity of 74bn cubic metres, the 10 principle agreement did not disclose terms concerning this issue. The agreement stressed it would “not affect the water share of any downstream country”.
The conflict reached its peak in 2013 following Morsi’s threats, calming down later, accumulating in a series of meetings between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan’s ministers of water and irrigation. They reached consensus and filed a report to Al-Sisi in March 2015, following which the president was set to visit Sudan and sign the agreement.