Robust ties are, of course, exactly what both countries need to deal with another major interest of concern to both – the issue of security and a response to extremism and terrorism, something which has equally affected both. Surprisingly, perhaps, it is also something that neither Ethiopia nor Egypt have properly explored. Yet security, internally, as well as regionally in both the Horn of Africa and North Africa, is vital to both states. Ethiopia and Egypt have some of the largest populations in Africa; both have been affected by substantial terrorist atrocities. Producing an adequate response to terrorism is not just in their own interests. Both states have responsibilities to their regions and to Africa and the Africa Union in this regard. Equally, both have a heavy responsibility to avoid exacerbating, even inadvertently, the dangers posed by terrorist activity.
There are a number of causes why such co-operation has not been developed, and the major reasons revolve around the issue of the Nile. Indeed, all Egypts relations with Ethiopia over the last century or so have largely revolved around this more than anything else. Successive Egyptian governments have sought to ensure their continued control of the Nile water, and because of this it has not been possible to establish a regime for the river based on mutual agreement. Certainly, upper riparian countries, including Ethiopia, for a long time suffered from a lack of sufficient resources to develop their legitimate claims to usage of the Nile water. The policies pursued by Egypt on this didnott help the confidence of the upper riparian countries towards this issue. There is a strong conviction in Ethiopia, which has been well-founded, that efforts have been made to prevent Ethiopia from accessing support for the purpose of obtaining the necessary financial support for hydro-electric projects, even where these projects would pose no harm whatsoever to Egypt.
Ethiopia attaches great importance to its relations with Egypt, over the Nile as in the area of security. It accepts that Egypt has legitimate interests in the use of the Nile River. Equally, it sincerely believes that the only way any controversy over the use of such a common resource can be settled is through dialogue and the principle of equitable utilization of the water, without causing significant harm to others. This is why Ethiopia has so strongly supported the Nile Basin Initiative and now the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement, negotiated among the Nile riparian countries over the last ten years. The upper riparian countries have time and again reassured the lower riparian countries, Egypt and Sudan, that they have not any interest in harming them or indeed any other country. Ethiopia strongly believes the Cooperative Framework Agreement is a formula for a win-win outcome for all.
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