By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – New foreign policy strategies embarked upon by the administration are starting to have an impact globally.
This was informed by the foreign minister Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar during a press conference outside parliament in Hargeisa where he had earlier on briefed the Guurti elders on his ministry’s activities undertaken in the recent past.
At the Gurti which is the upper chamber of parliament the foreign minister who informed that the country is determined on continuing dialogue with neighbouring Somalia despite on-going negative signals from the Mogadishu based administration.
“the administration of president Silanyo is determined in seeing through the internationally sanctioned talks with neighbouring Somalia despite negative oratory pertaining to Somaliland’s sovereignty that is continuously emanating from Mogadishu officials” said Dr Omar
While detailing engagements with Somalia the foreign minister told Guurti Elders that so far there have ensued three face to face talks with subsequent agreements reached in each meet since the talks were sanctioned during the February 2012 conference on Somalia held in London.
The international community sanctioned dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia in order to establish cordial relations through articles 6 and 10 of the London and Istanbul II conferences on Somalia respectively.
The country’s foreign policy chief who is also the chief negotiator with Somalia said that the latest talks hosted by Turkey concluded with the signing of the seven points Ankara Communique at a ceremony in Ankara witnessed by the president and Prime minister of Turkey Abdala Gül and Tayyip Erdogan respectively as well as president Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo of Somaliland and President Hasan Sh Mahmud of Somalia.
“This was our first official engagement with the president Hasan government following the expiry of the mandate of the Sheikh Sharif led Somalia Transitional Federal Government-TFG which we held two discussions with in 2012.” Informed Dr Omar
While the Turkey meeting was the third in the series of talks with Somalia the second one was in the UAE between president Silanyo and Ex-president Sheikh Sharif where the four points Dubai declaration was jointly signed president Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo and Sheikh Sharif then president of Somalia on 28/06/2012.
The Talks ice breaker was held at Chevening house in London by technical committees from the two countries which became the first official contact in 21 years. With the mandate of establishing guidelines for the international sanctioned talks the technical committees with the European Union as well as UK and Norwegian governments as witness signed the eight points Chevening House Declaration that became the backbone of engagement.
While castigating the Mogadishu based government officials that include the president and prime minister for continued attacks on the being of Somaliland which is against agreements pertaining to the deterrence of hate speech reached during the various meetings held by the countries the foreign minister reiterated Somaliland’s commitments to dialogue as a means of resolving long lasting conflicts.
Apart from the engagements with Somalia the country’s foreign policy chief informed Guurti elders that recent review of foreign policy embarked on by the administration during an internal assessment exercise conducted late last year has ensued with a new direction that has seen establishment of a systematic and regionalized quest targeting Africa Union, Arab League, IGAD, EU, Americas and the United Nations.
“Leading a high powered all inclusive delegation president Silanyo met and held talks with the Government of the United Arab Emirates which had extended an official invitation, said he, “several arrangements were concurred on during the parleys both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi” said Dr Omar
The administration also managed to contract the Glover park company an international public relations firm based in the USA at a below the market rate cost thus save the country on much needed funds while securing internationally reckoned consulting services. The foreign minister informed.
Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar whose composure at the briefing was a reflection of his confidence in success of past activities by his foreign docket told the elders that the recent visit to the USA by president Silanyo was the most successful considering the diversified stakeholders briefed on prevalent status of the country not to mention the address at the prestigious Atlantic council by the head of state.
According to the foreign minister the USA visit of April this year the head of stateundertook accompanied by a delegation of senior government officials conducted high level briefings and discussions with assorted institutions of repute in the US where tangible arrangements ensued.
Among the briefings and meetings conducted were with
• the US under Secretary of state for political affairs Ms Wendy Sherman at the state department where discussions revolved around issues of mutual concern, including stability, democracy and governance, and the need to combat al-Shabaab. The United States expressed support for continued dialogue between the Government of Somalia and Somaliland authorities, as took place in Turkey on April 13.
• The Business Council For International Understanding –BCIU where agreements were reached on imperative need to facilitate US investments in various sectors in Somaliland
• The USAID Chief who revealed that the US government shall increase direct development aid to Somaliland
• The military chiefs at the pentagon where Horn of Africa regional security issues and needs of Somaliland were explored.
• The Senate committee on Africa Affairs where the prevalent status in Somaliland and the Horn of Africa were the agenda.
The president whose itinerary was launched with his presentation of a paper titled “Somaliland’s Achievements in a Fragile Region” at the Atlantic Council concluded the US visit with a meeting with the Somaliland community in the Americas.
As for tangible forays made by the foreign minister the After Borama Conference at the African Research Institute-ARI and at the prestigious Berlin based think Tank “Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik” where he presented a much acclaimed paper on Somaliland’s statehood are of import due to not only the arenas but the participants who were heavyweights in their respective governments, institutions or sectors.
Before the statehood presentation Dr Omar had concluded agreements with KfW Development Bank and GIZ following successful discussions with officials from German ministry of foreign affairs in Berlin. GIZ is the official international development arm of the German government
After the statehood paper presentation and upon detailed discussions between foreign minister Dr. Mohamed Abdilahi Omar held in Copenhagen with the Dutch Minister for security and the Director General of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the International cooperation Service in The Hague, The Netherlands ,the Dutch government promised to look into both the volume and the format for Aid delivery to Somaliland.
The country’s foreign policy muscle was first displayed when president Silanyo rejected a British government request for Somaliland to renegade on its decision to boycott the Somalia conference held in London on 7th May.
The request conveyed directly by PM David Cameroon during a meeting at No 10 Downing street seems to have rubbed the UK in the wrong way while receiving immense backing from citizens at home and in the Diaspora.
The decision to boycott the conference was due to what president Silanyo termed as “It having nothing to offer Somaliland nor Somaliland to offer”
This diplomatic coup was followed by the most recent one in which the ministry of aviation in close collaboration with its foreign affairs counterpart banned all UN Flights from the country after UNDP transferred control of Somaliland’s airspace to the Somalia federal Government administration in Mogadishu.
This ban which shocked many in the so-called International community and whose negotiations are on-going between the administration and the UN is widely regarded as the most impactful decision ever taken by any sitting administration of this yet to be recognized Somaliland.
In the heels of these diplomatic coups came the European Union with pledges to continue direct engagement with the Hargeisa based administration conveyed by the Union’s Envoy to Somalia/Somaliland Amb Cervone Michele d’Urso during a meeting with president Silanyo earlier in the week.
This was followed by the French government that dispatched its new envoy to Kenya, Somalia and Somaliland Amb Etienne De Poncins to convey an official invitation to president Silanyo for bi-lateral discussion meetings with the highest levels of authority in France.
Back on Somalia which hasbeen on the warpath through oral war drum beats perceived by many to be a strategy of the SFG for convincing the visibly disillusioned international community to continue with its hand-outs that are the sole sustained of the administration Somalilanders have queried why dialogue continues to be important.
A case in point is a letter send to the Ethiopian government in which the SFG in Mogadishu is complaining against the public declaration of support to Somaliland made by Prime Minister Desalegn during a speech to the parliament in Addis Ababa on 18th May which coincided with Somaliland’s 22nd anniversary of separation from its fateful and voluntary union with Somalia.
Other negative speeches from Mogadishu include president Hasan declaring that his main mission as president is the entire unification of Somalia from Sayla in Somaliland to Kismayo in Jubaland.
His underling in the guise of prime minister told a recent cabinet meeting in Mogadishu that the government plans for Jubaland are similar to those that they arepursuing with Somaliland ; dialogue to entice Somaliland back to the union.
Well Turkey II is imminent and it is expected that Somaliland shall once again place its talk’s agenda on the table and if the Somalia team goes on with its negativity then Good Riddance dialogue.