Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has emphasized that resolving the conflict situation in Somalia is one of Turkey’s highest foreign policy priorities, as peace in Somalia would mean peace in a large area covering Africa, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean.
Delivering a speech at a gathering of representatives of Somali civil society groups in Istanbul on Sunday, the foreign minister underlined turkey’s role in contributing to a stable economic and political environment in Somalia. “While the entire world was looking to Somalia from the outside and holding conferences [on the situation in the country] in foreign capitals, Turkey has sent its most active civil society groups and aid organizations into Somalia, to be able to demonstrate that we share a common fate with Somalia,” he asserted. He further maintained that Turkey sees Somalia as neither an area of interest nor as a risk or security threat, but as a place where humanity’s conscience would be tested.
İstanbul is preparing to host its second major international conference on Somalia on Thursday, titled “Preparing Somalia’s Future: Goals for 2015,” a high-level meeting expected to be attended by presidents, prime ministers and ministers from 54 nations, as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu and Commission of the African Union chairperson Jean Ping. On Sunday Somali civil society groups gathering in İstanbul also selected a delegation from their number to speak at a political session of the conference on Thursday.
İstanbul was the venue of the first major global conference on the political conflict in Somalia in May 2010.
Davutoğlu highlighted that Turkey has fulfilled all promises made to Somalia, and recalled several visits to the country by both himself and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to improve their contribution to the nation’s peace. He also mentioned the regular flights initiated by Turkey’s national carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) to Mogadishu from İstanbul, claiming, “İstanbul is currently the door for Somalia to open to the world and will continue to be so.”
Turkey has sent $365 million (TL 640 million) in cash and in-kind aid to Somalia over the past year, according to the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD). Famine killed 29,000 children in Somalia last year, and Turkey has spearheaded projects to send aid to the conflict and drought-stricken country.
Meanwhile, Abukar Arman, Somali special envoy to the US, touted Turkey’s involvement in Somalia as “a model worthy of emulation,” writing also in a statement released on Saturday that Turkey’s aid campaign is “not about how much money is raised or poured into a system, but how strategically those dollars are invested.”