Turkey giving hope and help to Somalia, says United Nations’ Ban

PM Erdoğan met with Somali President Sheikh Ahmed on the sidelines of the Somalia conference. (Photo: AA)

June 01, 2012, Friday/ 17:48:00

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has praised Turkish efforts in Somalia to assist in the reconstruction of the Horn of Africa nation and called on the international community to help Somalia build its own security apparatus and establish the rule of law.

"I congratulate Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan for making Somalia a priority," Ban said at a conference in İstanbul that was convened to discuss ways to support Somalia in its process of transition, calling for a new constitution and parliament and the election of a president by Aug. 20. "Turkey has an impressive track record of working with the Somalis. Turkey's diplomats are in Mogadishu. Turkey has built roads, hospitals and schools giving hope and help," Ban said. Ban said the international community's efforts have resulted in progress in Somalia, which has been facing deprivation and chaos since it descended into anarchy in 1991 but emphasized that the country needs to step up aid to help Somalia build its own security forces and political system.

“In the face of terrorism, piracy and drought, Somalia needs solidarity,” Ban said. “Partners have to step up and do their part.”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, addressing the same conference, announced that Turkey has decided to provide another $1 million in aid to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in order to contribute to the normalization of the ongoing security situation in the country. Turkey also gave $1 million in aid to the mission in 2009.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, speaking after Erdoğan, also applauded Turkey’s contributive efforts in Somali. Mentioning the significant improvements that have been made in clearing the country of the religious extremist groups al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda, the president underlined that the country still “has to make considerable for security to be established.” He also mentioned the need for a more efficient struggle with piracy in international waters, which has deep implications for the daily lives of the Somali people.

The second İstanbul Somali conference was a platform in which more advanced security and political mechanisms to conduct a successful reconstruction in Somalia were proposed. The conference is a follow-up meeting that was scheduled during an international London Conference in February to monitor progress on planned improvements on issues such as the fight against piracy and corruption during the delivery of international aid as well as building up a national army to ensure peace in Somalia. In 2010 Turkey signed an agreement to train Somali soldiers at a UN-backed international Somalia summit in İstanbul.

Erdoğan expressed the opinion during the conference that the time had come to discuss the formation of a new and fortified United Nations mission in Somalia, a country which has suffered from civil war and religious extremism due to the political vacuum in the country since 1991. “As a first step in that direction, the UN could start a strategic review mission in Somalia,” Erdoğan stated. The prime minister also said that the first initiatives of a fund under Turkey’s leadership aiming to modernize and reconstruct of the security sector in Somalia have been.

Somalia has had transitional administrations for the past seven years, but has not had a functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a long-time dictator and turned on each other, plunging the nation into chaos. The conference discussed solutions for a healthy post-transitional period after 21 years.

Erdoğan, expressing support for that new period stated, “Somalia’s future will be determined by the Somali people from now on.”

A draft resolution that was expected to be adopted at the end of the conference later on Friday said that the primary responsibility for establishing a political solution in the country lies with the Somalis themselves. The principle, called “Somali ownership,” points to the need for Somalis to take an initiative to build a secure environment in the country, with international help. The basic approach of Turkey is based on establishing a working public service and education system in the country and also laying the groundwork for a national police and security system.

Reminding participating country delegations of the substantial amount of aid given to Somalia by Turkey -- $300 million for the last year – and the sensitivity of the Turkish people towards the suffering of the Somalis, Erdoğan pleaded with the international community to speed up their efforts to support the war-torn country.

“Turkey is still the only Western country that has an embassy in Mogadishu. I invite the international community to open their own diplomatic agencies in Mogadishu,” Erdoğan stated. Emphasizing the importance that Turkey has placed on every corner of Somalia, Erdoğan further provided information about Turkish development offices in Puntland -- an autonomous region within Somalia -- and in Galmugud, which will be opened very soon.

In his speech, Ban called for “inclusive dialogue where all Somali voices should be heard” in efforts to rebuild the country’s political system. “The constitution will have to be finalized based on the full spectrum of views. It must reflect international human rights standards. It should be put to a referendum open to all Somalis. And all Somalis, regardless of gender, clan or political affiliation, should be able to take part in elections,” he said.

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