Somalia nets backing for peace

Somalia nets backing for peace

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Somalia nets backing for peace

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ (R), Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (L) deliver opening speeches on the first day of the Istanbul Conference on Somalia in Istanbul. DHA photo

The second Istanbul Conference on Somalia aims to address the challenges Somalia is facing and to conceptualize and plan for the implementation of long-term solutions. Leaders and representatives from 54 countries are participating in the conference.

“After a long period of instability and conflict, we now have ahead of us an opportunity for genuine peace and security,” Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said at the opening of the conference. However, the minister said, international aid alone cannot eliminate the problems in Somalia.

“It is obvious that lasting peace and stability in Somalia hinges on the improvement of the Somali government’s abilities to provide and grant uninterrupted access to basic services all over the country,” the minister said.

Leaders at the conference said Somalia needs a global reconstruction effort to back up the ongoing stabilization efforts. On the first day, senior officials, experts and businessmen discussed four issues: water, energy, roads and resilience.

Today’s agenda: Politics

Today, the political dimension of aid to Somalia will be discussed with the participation of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and other top officials.

Bozdağ said achieving security, political stability and unity through dialogue and reconciliation as well as food security, economic development, ending piracy, and providing health and education services are the biggest challenges Somalia now faces.

PM Erdoğan’s milestone visit to Mogadishu

The minister said Erdoğan’s visit to Somalia last year raised international awareness, adding that the opening of the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu and direct flights by Turkish Airlines to the Somali capital had made a major contribution to help the country “integrate with the international community.”
Apart from Bozdağ, Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and U.N. Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga also delivered speeches.

“Whilst there have been some substantive achievements in all areas, there is still a significant way to go towards equitable economic growth and national stability. Commitments and concrete actions need to be revitalized both from the Somali and the international side,” the U.N. envoy said.

The mandate of Somalia’s transitional institutions is to expire in August and the current administration is racing against time to reclaim control of the territory before it dissolves.

Last year, Turkey launched a major diplomatic, economic and humanitarian push and became one of a very few nations to set up an embassy in the capital.

It was opened following a visit in August by Erdoğan, the first major non-African leader to visit the Somali capital in almost 20 years.

Direct flights between Somalia and Turkey started in March.

Turkey has sent $365 million in cash and aid in kind to Somalia over the past year, according to the Prime Ministry’s Disaster and Emergency Management Directorate (AFAD).