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May 28, 2012, Monday

Second International Somalia Conference: end of transitional phase

The Second International Somalia Conference is to be held at the İstanbul Congress Center from May 31 to June 1 under the theme “Preparing Somalia’s Future: Goals for 2015.” The high-level conference is expected to be attended by presidents, prime ministers and ministers from 54 countries, as well as representatives from international and regional organizations, including the secretary-general of the United Nations, the president of the African Union Commission and the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

A roadmap is already in place to replace Somalia’s current Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which has presided over a process of peace and reconciliation in the war-torn nation, by Aug. 20. The Second International Somalia Conference is the last international meeting scheduled before that date.

In the intervening months 135 traditional elders will select 825 members of the National Constituent Assembly and 225 delegates to the post-transition parliament, to be finalized by July 15. Members of parliament, due to begin sitting on July 20, will duly elect a speaker and deputy speakers on Aug. 4, and a president on Aug. 20. The election of the president will mark the beginning of a new phase in Somali politics.

The arrival of traditional elders in Turkey to meet with around 200 representatives of nongovernmental organizations in the course of five days is a major event, signaling Turkey’s trailblazing role in forging a peaceful future for Somalia.

The first day of the conference will consist of four partnership forums on the topics of energy, water, roads and resilience, attended by representatives from Somalia, the international private sector, nongovernmental organizations and UN donors. The forums will focus on infrastructural goals for Somalia, on actualizing both long-term investments and possible legal regulations that will render these investments attractive and on outlining the long-term commitment of the international community to Somalia’s development. Developmental support and the issue of humanitarian aid to Somalia will be covered in all four forums. The conference will be held under the co-chairmanship of Turkey, Somalia and the United Nations.

On May 26 a meeting of Somali nongovernmental groups was held in İstanbul. The purpose of this meeting was to progress deliberations to select representatives to the National Constituent Assembly and founding parliament. Discussions will take place between scholars, representatives of nongovernmental organizations and of the Somali diaspora community, as well as youth and women’s rights groups, on existing problems in the region and the future of Somalia. A representative from the meeting will be chosen to deliver a speech on behalf of the attendees at a political session in the International Somalia Conference.

Turkey aims to support Somalia in all areas of development. To this end, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the Somali capital Mogadishu on Aug. 19, 2011 -- the first prime ministerial visit to Somalia since 1993. In the course of the visit current Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed remarked to Prime Minister Erdoğan: “A minister from another country visited here just before you. When this minister came here he told us, ‘There are problems with security, this, that, et cetera.’ He toured the city in an armored car and didn’t step out of the car, didn’t shake hands with anyone, then left the country. But you came here with your wife and children. You didn’t drive around in armored cars. You mingled with the public, you held their hands, patted children on the head and witnessed the problems of the people first-hand. Therefore, even if Turkey had not contributed financial aid to Somalia, this photograph depicting you mingling with the public is as valuable to us as the biggest financial donation in the world. It is very precious in terms of improving our image. This is a historic visit for us.”

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