By: Yusuf M Hasan
ANKARA (Somalilandsun) – The Somaliland and Somalia teams of negotiators have presented brief statements and opposing intended agendas to the Foreign minister of Turkey.
The two delegations which concurred and displayed optimism for successful dialogue during joint courtesy call to the Turkish Foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Saturday morning at his Ankara offices where they also thanked the Turkish government for hosting the meeting after presenting their proposed but divergent agendas for the three days meeting that starts on the 9th July in Istanbul.
Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar who spoke on behalf of the Somaliland delegation expressed his country’s view on the process and expectation of the meeting, calling on participants to engage in substantive discussion on the issue Somaliland’s recognition and to thrash out a road map geared towards that end.
In contrast, his Somalia counterpart Minister Abdikarim Guleid on behalf of Somali government emphasised that the main agenda should to negotiate Somaliland’s grievances as a prelude to the reunion of the two countries.
On Sunday the 7th July, the two delegation leaders will lead their teams to the fourth phase of what is expected to be the most difficult round of talks between the two sides since the talks started at Chevening House in the UK on 20 June 2012.
During a briefing to the Turkish media tonight, Somaliland’s Minister of Trade and International Investment, Dr Mohamed A Omar, hinted that both political and technical issues are on table for this round of talks.
The Somaliland team of negotiators that includes government ministers and members of parliament is led by the Minister of Commerce and international Investment Dr Mohamed Abdilahi Omar who despite change from the foreign ministry still retains his position as chief negotiator with Somalia.
Other members of the Somaliland team of negotiators include Presidency minister Mr Hirsi Ali Haji Hasan, Minister of Labour and social services Mahmud Garad and Members of parliament Bashe Mohamed Farah, Saeed Jama Elmi and Hildiban Hussein.
The SFG team from Mogadishu is led by the interior minister Abdikarim Hussein Guleid who together with Somaliland’s Dr Mohamed A Omar co-signed the Ankara Communiqué after a tripartite meeting hosted by the government of Turkey in Ankara last April
Negotiations to be held for three consecutive days in Istanbul from 7th July 2013 shall be the first for the two sides to be closeted alone with members from the host country or other stakeholders in attendance since the talks in their fourth phase begun in London last year thus the host country shall probably be represented on the final day of deliberations by its foreign minister Mr Ahmet Davutoglu who was moderator during the April Talks.
The dialogue between the two formerly united in the now defunct republic of Somalia that collapsed in 1991 after Somaliland pulled out of the union and reclaim its sovereignty following a protracted civil war was sanctioned by the international community during the first conference held in London in February of 2012.
Following the dictates of the Feb 2012 London conference on Somalia communiqué urging the two countries to resolve the two decades long issue of Somaliland’s unilateral declaration of independence and Somalia’s insistence on unity the talks the first meeting at Technical level were held in at Chevening Manor house in London.
The talks the first between the two sides in 21 years that were hosted by the British government and witnessed by the Norwegian government and the European Union resulted in the eight points Chevening Declaration that was subsequently ratified in Dubai.
The second phase in the United Emirates city of Dubai saw the somaliland president Ahmed Mahmud Silanyo and his then Somali Counterpart Sheikh Sharif ratify the Chevening declarations through the signing of the four points Dubai Accords whose major import was a commitment by the two countries to continue dialogue.
The third phase was the April 2013 one in Ankara that saw president Silanyo meet for the first with President Hasan Mahmud who replaced Sheikh Sharif , thus participate in deliberations and witness the signing of the 8 points Ankara Communiqué together with the trio of Turkish leaders namely president Abdul Gül , Prime minister Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign minister Davutoglu.
While stand-offs have been known to occur during the earlier three phases it appears that this phase round things shall be combative with the two sides having overtly declared their intended agendas that are completely in contrast to each other.