Listening and Acting: Somaliland Wins Praise and Commitments



from European Parliamentarians and Policymakers

Dr. Mohamed Omar, Somaliland Foreign Minister, concludes his first visit to Brussels, urging renewed support for Hargeisa’s successful anti-terrorism efforts and
assistance in the economic diversification of his country

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Brussels, 22 March 2012 - At the invitation of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, Dr Mohamed Omar, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Somaliland engaged in an exchange of views with parliamentarians – the first of its kind in twenty years – in which he set forth the objectives and challenges facing his government since their election to office in 2010.

As al-Shabaab increasingly shifted towards Somaliland’s mountainous border regions, Dr. Omar called for support in the fight against terrorism and its roots. Economic diversification and building capacity for youth employment would be crucial for regional political and economic stability, he stated, as would be international recognition of his country’s desire for sovereign statehood and the benefits this would bring.

Fiorello Provera MEP, Vice-Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, declared in discussions with Dr Omar that “Somaliland’s potential has to be matched – by opening our markets, encouraging investment and building upon the links we are forging today.” Charles Tannock MEP,conveying the strong support Somaliland enjoys in the European Parliament, believed its re-recognition “stronger than Kosovo’s case,” echoing calls he made that Somaliland’s coastguard, prisons, and military all deserved European support.

Just as Michael Gahler MEP acknowledged “that new states can come into existence, borders can change,” so he wanted to “continue to cooperate on development.” Frustration at the “inefficiency of our policies” was expressed by Ana Gomes MEP who was amongst those urging EU engagement with Somaliland. Hargeisa had “passed the practical test” of statehood Tunne Kelam MEP believed, while Somaliland’s success left Alf Svensson MEP “full of admiration.”

Over the two days of his visit, Dr. Omar met with senior figures in the institutions of the European Union. In cordial discussions with European Commissioner for Development, Andris Piebalgs, Dr Omar stressed the need for development of the economically important Berbera Corridor as artery whose revenues would be crucial in supporting Somaliland’s successful combating of terrorism and piracy in the region and sustainably developing its natural resources, particularly livestock and fish exports.

Dr Omar’s visit comes after the February 2012 London Somalia Conference and begins a new era of engagement between Hargeisa, European institutions and national capitals ahead of the termination of Mogadishu’s Transitional Federal Government in August 2012. Against this backdrop, Marino Busdachin, UNPO General Secretary believed “the foundations laid by successive Somaliland governments has shown a real conviction…that must now be rewarded with tangible action, commitments to which we saw today.”

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