Speech: A New Deal for Somalia
European Commission - SPEECH/13/707 16/09/2013
Other available languages: none
José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
A New Deal for Somalia
A New Deal for Somalia Conference/Brussels
16 September 2013
Thank you very much Cathy,
Let me also say the pleasure I have for being in this closing ceremony here with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud - whom I met this morning - with the President of Djibouti, Ismail Guelleh, and with all of you, ministers, ambassadors, distinguished participants.
Ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, my sincere word of thanks to Cathy Ashton for organising this conference and to her and all the personnel that has supported her in this very important initiative.
Almost one year ago, on 20 August 2012, Somalia went through a new beginning. But every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end.
In the case of Somalia it was the end of a transitional phase which launched the foundations for what, we all expect, can become a stable, democratic country, living at peace with itself and with its neighbours.
For a too long period Somalia was an example of what can happen to a country when the rule of law breaks down and warlordism assumes the reins. It is now time that Somalia becomes an example of how a war thorn country can overcome past divisions and promote peace, development and national reconciliation. To achieve it we need the commitment of the Somalis and we need the support and mobilisation of the international community.
That is what this conference, the Brussels conference, set out to do.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today, we can say the Brussels conference has been successful and we are proud to be part of that effort.
The Conference has highlighted the commitment of the Somali people to work together, and the strong solidarity from the International Community to help Somalia achieve its goals.
With a strong, living Compact, endorsed by Somalia and the International Community, we can draw inspiration and strength for our cooperation.
We will need the encouragement. Because the needs remain great.
But together we are starting to meet them.
Under the leadership of African Union forces – and I would also like to make a special reference and to the African Union effort - the threat of Al-Shabaab is being countered, and the political space needed for reconciliation and reconstruction is gradually being created.
Somali political leadership is strengthened through increasing regional engagement, increasing investments and increased control of their own governance and security. For further progress, we need to make sure Somali authorities are better able to control their own finances and revenues as well.
The international community will step up its support. A number of important Conferences this year have substantially contributed to bringing us to the point we are at today, and I thank all my colleagues here for those very important efforts.
The European Union has been a long-time partner to Somalia. Since 2008 we have provided over 1 billion Euros to support Somali people's basic needs and to improve the country's security through support to the African Union Mission in Somalia and to training and advising Somali security forces. And I am glad to confirm that today we have pledged an additional 650 million euros to support this new Compact.
The Conference today has been about connecting the dots, bringing together all the commitments made to the Somali people, both by the Somali government and by the international community, in one coherent framework. It has been key to connect the priorities set by the Somali people themselves with the engagements of their international supporters.
Through the Compact we now have a clear and agreed roadmap of how Somalia can address its most urgent priorities while moving towards a full constitution and elections in 2016, in order to fully and legitimately represent the interests of all its citizens. I want to thank you, Mr President, for the very complete briefing and the very open and friendly conversation we had today, where you exposed to me with very clear detail all the plans you have for this democratic advance in your country.
Because this is ultimately a Somali-led process, one that has been developed by its government, parliament and regions, and that will continue to rely on the commitment and ownership of all elements of Somali society.
With their admirable drive, and let me highlight here in particular the role of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and our effective support, I believe we can make it happen.
It was indeed, I think without precedents, an effort to make this Compact, this New Deal for Somalia. When you think about it, in such a short period of time – in a country that has still so many security challenges, it was possible for the President and its advisors and administration to consult people all over the country. And we are very proud, I have to say, for the work that the European Union, the European Commission and its External Action Service, have been doing on the ground, sometimes in difficult conditions, to help the Somali authorities. I would like to express my word of appreciation and thanks to our European Union personnel that have been working with our Somali friends to make this possible.
What we have achieved today can lay the foundations:
So let's now implement it, knowing well that there is a lot of work still to do.
The Compact as I said, is a living document, because as we know it will be adapted to very important challenges - as time moves on, will be revisited and reviewed against the commitments we have collectively made.
On the part of the international community, we need to think about how we can adapt our systems so that our funding streams become more transparent, more aligned with the priorities, and even more focused. That is why the commonly agreed financial architecture will be of crucial importance and should improve the effectiveness of our aid to Somalia.
The European Union has affirmed today its firm commitment to substantial support that covers the breadth of Somali needs and we will deliver our support through the mechanisms enshrined in the Compact.
And I am also proud to announce that today we welcome Somalia into the Cotonou agreement, a clear sign of further strengthening our bilateral relationship, a clear sign that now we have a solid contractual framework and a clear sign of integration of Somalia as a full member in the wider international community. I know that Somalia has now joined or re-joined many of the relevant international organisations - many them are here represented today. Eventually, success will depend on a firm partnership between all of us.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Konrad Adenauer, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, once said that 'history is also the sum of things that could have been avoided'.
And indeed when we think about Somalia we think about so many opportunities that were missed, for a country that has been suffering for too long. If I may make a personal remark, I visited Somalia and Mogadishu in 1992. So, shortly after the breakdown of the Somali state. It was a troika of Foreign Ministers – I was representing my country, Portugal, together with the Foreign Minister of Britain, Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Minister of Denmark, Ellemann-Jensen, and also the Commissioner representative, member of the Commission, Frans Andriessen.
I remember well a country completely destroyed but this breakdown of the state, I remember that when we went to Mogadishu we were welcomed by two different gentlemen saying "welcome, I'm the President of Somalia". Two different Presidents. By the way, Douglas Hurd then said to the second "oh, I just met your colleague". A country cannot live with two Presidents. A country needs rule of law, of course in democracy, with inclusiveness, integrating all the parts in this federal structure of your country. But a country needs this kind of stability. And so many opportunities were missed, such big tragedies have happened in this country that I really believe that the efforts that we have agreed to make today for Somalia, with the ownership and the leadership of the Somali people and the Somali government themselves, it will be a very important step, it will not be all the efforts needed, but certainly they are highlighting hope.
I believe that the suffering and destruction in Somalia could have been avoided; unfortunately we cannot repair that anymore. But we can now work to create a better future for the Somali people, for all the reasons that are strategically so important. Also for a better Africa; Africa that is delivering the great promises that exist in that continent, and I'm very proud that the European Union, through this conference, is giving also its contribution, together with all of you.
I thank you all for your participation in this conference and the commitments made.