Somalis welcome the results of Istanbul Conference
The Somali Transitional Federal Government and political analysts say the momentum achieved from the Istanbul Conference bodes well for the future.
By Mahmoud Mohamed for SES Türkiye in Mogadishu -- 05/06/12
Somali analysts and officials welcomed the results of the Istanbul Conference on Somalia after its conclusion Friday (June 1st) in Turkey.
Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (left) greets Somalia President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed in Istanbul on Friday (June 1st). [Reuters]
Analysts said they hope the momentum of the conference would put Somalia on the right path for building a new future.
The conference, held under the theme "Preparing Somalia's Future: Goals for 2015," issued a statement emphasising the unity of Somalia and the importance of dialogue and transparency in the appointment of new members of government. Attendees called on the international community to provide funds and assistance in the post-transition period to rebuild Somalia's infrastructure.
Members of the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG), UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and representatives from 57 countries and 11 international organisations attended the two-day conference.
The participants called on the international community to continue its support for building and adequately equipping the Somali security forces, including the national police force, navy, coast guard and intelligence agencies.
Somalis need to renounce violence and work together within a constitutional framework and to support building the state, participants said.
The Somali government welcomed the results of the conference, highlighting its economic, security and political implications.
"By addressing the economic issues and chronic impoverishment, the Somali people will have new opportunities for jobs -- which could be alternatives to the violence -- especially for the youth," the government said.
"The international community has an important role to play in Somalia, especially providing the necessary support to create professional army and police forces that will be responsible for maintaining the security of the country," the TFG said.
Hassan al-Bisri Sheikh Abdulqadir, head of the East Africa Studies and Media Centre in Mogadishu, said Turkey has recently taken a series of political and humanitarian initiatives to help lift Somalia out of its current crisis.
"Turkey is quickly becoming a strong and active ally in the Somali issue and was the first major country to offer humanitarian assistance to reduce the impact of drought and famine that struck Somalia last year," he told SES Türkiye.
Abdulqadir said Turkey is playing an important role in Somalia.
"When … Erdoğan decided to visit Mogadishu last August, it reinforced the credibility of Turkish efforts towards Somalia in an unprecedented way," he said.
"Turkey is implementing several development programmes to rebuild Somalia, including building roads and hospitals and opening new schools. Turkey has also provided hundreds of university scholarships for Somali students to study in Turkey."
University professor Mukhtar Hussein said Turkey's role is unique and comes "at a time when an Islamic and Arabic role in confronting the Somali crisis is almost negligible."
"Ankara is currently spearheading targeted initiatives to create a unified vision shared by the international community towards Somalia to rebuild the country and allow Somalis to be self-reliant," he said. "Turkey has also played a role in bringing closer the differing views of Somali factions."
After the failure of their Mogadishu conference, tribal leaders were flown to Istanbul last month by the Turkish government for conflict-resolution sessions.
Hasan Ozturk, a prominent African expert from the Ankara-based think tank Bilgesam, said Turkey's role in Somalia is political, but not limitless.
"The current crisis of confidence being encountered in Somalia can only be overcome by the presence of a third party such as Turkey, who has already established the basis of such a confidence," he told SES Türkiye.
Ozturk said, however, that Turkey cannot resolve Somalia's problems alone.
"[Turkey] should endeavour to produce fair results, but Turkey should not remain the main decisive actor," he said. "This issue requires international co-operation."
SES Türkiye correspondent Menekse Tokyay in Istanbul contributed to this article.