Revising the officially announced travel schedule, Ethiopian Premier Meles Zenawi concluded a visit to Egypt on Saturday evening. Though Egyptian media had reported, citing their ForeignEthiopian PM Meles Zenawi Egyptian PM Essam Sharaf Cairo Airport Ministry, that the visit will take place from Sept. 17 to 18, it took place one day ahead.

Here are extracts of Saturday news reports of Meles Zenawi’s stay in Cairo from Arabic Egyptian news outlets(Google translation).

Meeting with Egypt’s Head of State.

Daily Rose El Youssef reported that:

[Meles Zenawi] met with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi Commander in Chief and Chairman of President of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The meeting discussed issues of common interest between the two countries on the African continent and the importance of boosting cooperation between the two countries in all fields to achieve the ambitious popular of the two countries and the continent of Africa. 
Meeting was attended by Lieutenant General Sami Anan Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, deputy head of Supreme Council and a number of members of the Supreme Council of the armed forces and the Ethiopian Ambassador in Cairo.

Joint press conference: Following Meles Zenawi’s meeting with the Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf, the two Prime Ministers held a joint press conference on Saturday afternoon.  The press conference has been reported by several Egyptian outlets. reported the following:

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf

[Essam Sharaf  said that] the Ethiopian-Egyptian relations entwined with a common culture and are protected by the River Nile. He said he visited Ethiopia for four months in the framework of the government’s orientation towards Africa . where it was during this visit an agreement to open a new page of cooperation between the two countries are to achieve the common interests of both countries and the future of children and grandchildren .

Prime Minister Meles ZenawiPM Meles Zenawi and Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi

Meles Zenawi said that his visit to Egypt is the kick off of close relations between Egypt and Ethiopia, which extends for more than a thousand years and said that the Nile River as a bridge of communication between Egypt and Ethiopia and that all relevant parties in the river should benefit from it without giving any exploitation of a party at the expense of another and this is what we must stress it .

Meles said he agreed with the [Egyptian Prime Minister] during their talks on strategic planning for bilateral cooperation between them as a key part in opening the new page of cooperation, stressing that the River Nile, a fundamental pillar of cooperation, but the frameworks are in many other task to support the joint cooperation related to the increase of trade exchange and investment and support bilateral cooperation as well to cooperate at the regional level .

In response to a question on the Framework Convention, Zenawi said that these issues will be resolved within the framework of a new direction and we have to determine the mechanisms for this and be an anchor to achieve that benefit all parties and no party at the expense of another . Zenawi said we have to postpone the signing of the agreement, until Egypt is studied and show the resolution, and I think that Egypt will have a leading role. reported:

Meles Zenawi

Meles Zenawi…….was keen Zenawi during the interview to emphasize that the Nile is a bridge of communication between the two countries will not be a barrier before them, Meles said during a joint press conference: «We have opened a new page between the two countries since the visit Dr. Essam Sharaf to Ethiopia, pointing out that his visit to Egypt will serve as the launch of close relations between the two countries, which stretches for over 1000 years, and added Zenawi: The Nile River should benefit all the parties .. Not be acquired by the State of its own, pointing to open a new page between the two countries not only focused on the Nile, but extends to investments and direct cooperation on regional issues, stressing the need to settle disputes between the Nile Basin countries, Meles said: We have postponed the signing of the Framework Convention, but we appeal to Egypt to study and join them.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf:

Dr. Essam Sharaf said that Egyptian investments in Ethiopia is more than $ 2 billion, [he hoped it will increase] to about $ 5 billion over the next few years, noting that the volume of trade exchange between Egypt and Ethiopia, is disproportionate to the possibilities available to the two countries.:…… He added that the consultation will lead to a different relationship to shift from a narrow problem to that of development, has been made on this space and the effectiveness of relationships and converted to the appropriate level by the business.  also quoted Prime Minister Meles Zenawi as saying that:Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi Egyptian PM Essam Sharaf

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said….. that he agreed with Dr. Essam Sharaf, a number of steps to strengthen relations between the two countries in the fields of energy, electricity, health, technical education, higher education, industry and foreign trade, customs, media, investment, water resources and irrigation, and civil aviation, fisheries, communications and information technology, women and youth, and that he signed six agreements in the fields of higher education, agriculture, aquaculture, capacity building, training, and water resources, avoidance of double taxation, and youth.

Zenawi said: The business understands that life is a place to collect the gains and this also happen on the political front .. He pointed out that the right action is based on mutual benefit among all parties and businessmen are the ones who are leading the way by the government, [however, the business] can not do everything without the support of the government .. Stressing the need to end the cloud of uncertainty that limit the joint actions and must be agreed to end all the obstacles that stand between the two countries. Zenawi called for business to move forward to consolidate the good relations between the two countries.

Daily Rose El Youssef quoted the Egyptian Prime Minister as saying that:

Dr. Essam Sharaf said that it was agreed to provide all possible facilities to the Egypt and Ethiopia, in turn, to the continent of Africa and the Nile Basin and pointed out that the volume of investments between Egypt and Ethiopia reached $ 2 billion last year and are expected to increase next period.

On the issue of the Grand Renaissance dam of Ethiopia confirmed to the Egyptian Prime Minister that it is very difficult to leave a message for future generations that a dam in one of the countries to prevent the creation of development in another country .. Or that one of the states acquired on the Nile, pointing out that the real objective of these meetings is to prepare an integrated development plan between the two countries.

Gate Sunrise quoted the Egyptian Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Faiza Aboul Naga, as saying, (during the same press conference?):

[we]have been completing the legal framework of cooperation between the two countries for the elimination of double taxation and investment protection, the establishment of a fund to invest on the Nile.

She added that both the building and construction, energy, meat is the vital areas of investment between the two countries which amounted to some two billion dollars, after the visit of Dr. Essam Sharaf to Ethiopia, where he opened a new page is not limited by the relations between the two countries on the Nile, but also will extend to all areas in which the interests of joint for both sides to support the Nile.

Egyptian Experts opinion on the visit:Ethiopian PM Meles Zenawi and Egyptian PM Essam Sharaf meeting

Gate Sunrise had also inquired the opinion of two Egyptian experts in African affairs about the  the significance of this visit and whether it can be direct the positions of the two countries to reach consensus on these issues’. The experts’ opinion was reported as follows:

Hani Raslan, an expert Center for Political and Strategic Studies Al-Ahram, the President of the Nile Basin studies program and the Sudan, said that the significance of the visit of Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Egypt, lies in the development of bilateral relations between the two countries, whether commercial or investment.

Raslan said that Egypt is between the path of bilateral relations and the issue of Nile water, and that the first goal of the visit – according to his vision – not a debate on the issue of water, but the development of relations between the two countries, which is what he sees as the long-term solution to the dispute over the crisis of confidence between the two sides.

Dr. Ayman Shabana, a professor of political science at the Institute of African Studies at the University of Cairo, he considered the visit an important step in strengthening relations between Egypt and Ethiopia, and submit them to the level of relationship, particularly as Ethiopia is responsible for 85% of the Nile water flowing to Egypt, and added that change the position of Ethiopia to Nile water is subject to "something new to offer Egypt to Ethiopia," according to the recipe, noting that the situation will not change once Zenawi’s visit to Cairo, the Egyptian proposal to increase investment in the energy sector in Ethiopia, as an entry point for the settlement of differences between the two countries on the water.


Check the Nile Archive and Egypt Archive for related posts.

Daniel Berhane

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