In a brief interview this evening with the state-owned broadcaster, Ethiopian Television, Ambassador Dina Mufti said his government is awaiting clarifications from Riyadh.
Spokesperson of the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, Amb. Dina Mufti said the hostile remarks made by Saudi Prince in Cairo this week were "strong" and "hurtful".
As reported yesterday in this blog, citing English and Arabic middle-east outlets, Prince Khalid bin Sultan made blistering remarks against Ethiopia in his speech at the 3rd Arab Water Council 3rd held this week in Cairo, Egypt.
The Prince said that:
"Egypt is the most affected party from the Ethiopian Renaissance dam because they have no alternative water source compared to other Nile Basin countries and the establishment of the dam 12 kilometers from the Sudanese border is for political plotting rather than for economic gain and constitutes a threat to Egyptian and Sudanese national security".
"if [legal frameworks] which are firm and binding in drafting are sufficient in achieving justice in the distribution of water resources or they must be backed by military force if necessary".
He went as far as making outrageous accusations against Ethiopia claiming that:
"There are fingers messing with water resources of Sudan and Egypt which are rooted in the mind and body of Ethiopia. They do not forsake an opportunity to harm Arabs without taking advantage of it".
The Saudi official added that Nile basin countries calling for reallocating Nile water shares is a "real threat" to Egypt’s future. "The information is alarming and it is important that we do not underestimate the danger at the moment and its repercussions in the future," he said.
Though the television anchor watered down the Prince’s statement, paraphrasing it in a single sentence, as if it was a general remark on the impact of the dam, Ambassador Dina Mufti said that the remarks were an interference in Ethiopia’s domestic affairs and hurtful of the relation between Arabs and Nile basin countries.
According to Amb. Dina Mufti the "top leadership" convened yesterday to discuss the matte, following the strong reaction from Ethiopians at home and aboard.
The Saudi Ambassador in Addis was summoned to explain the matter.
The Ambassador claimed to be "shocked" by the Prince’s remark, adding that it doesn’t represent his government’s position.
The TV anchor inquired Amb. Dina Mufti if he thinks the Prince’s remark represents Saudi Arabia’s position.
Amb. Dina replied that this is not a matter of personal opinion. The remark doesn’t add up with the scale of cooperation we have with the Saudis, however, we are awaiting the clarifications the Ambassador pledged to bring from his king.
In a related news, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegne met Saudi’s Finance Minister at his office today. If official accounts of the meeting are accurate, the meeting focused on trivial issues, including display of fruits and honey produced by Saudi investors in Ethiopia.
The absence of any good-feel statement from the Saudi Finance Minister and the reservations of Amb. Dina Mufti suggests the matter is far from resolved.
It is yet to be seen if Hailemariam Desalegne’s government has the resolve to summon respect from the Arab oligarchs who never fail to attack Ethiopia whenever they feel to have found an opportune moment.
Many hope PM Hailemariam knows he has the full backing of Ethiopians and dares to take the necessary measure drawing a line in the sand, as his predecessor would have done.
You may watch the interview below (Amharic)