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High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission
Remarks by High Representative Catherine Ashton at her press conference with the President of Somalia, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud
Brussels 30th January 2013
Mr President, can I say how delighted I am to welcome you to Brussels on what I believe is your first trip to Europe.
Over the last 2 years, we have seen that Somalia has come a long way.
I pay tribute to the people of your country who have struggled hard and made great sacrifices to break out of the cycle of violence and instability.
And it is wonderful to see the beginning of a new era, under the leadership of you, Mr President, and your team.
I am proud to say that the relationship between the European Union and Somalia has helped to lay the foundations for this progress.
We have stood by the Somali people for the last twenty years and we commit to stand with the people for the future.
We are going to organise a conference in Brussels this autumn, which will come up with a New Deal for Somalia that will help to deliver political, security and development support that I know Mr President you need and that we wish to help you obtain.
This will bring together the international community and will offer support for the people of Somalia in ways that best serve their interests.
Our teams are working hard to prepare this event and discussing with our partners, to achieve a practical and durable solution for Somalia.
We've seen already many recent successes: a new Government and Parliament and the adoption of a provisional constitution. And to see more and more Somalis returning home to help rebuild their country.
But this does not mean that we can be complacent.
We know that there are many challenges ahead, and much hard work to be done to cement this lasting progress.
We recognise the complexity of Somalia's transition.
Mr President, I was in Mogadishu last August and I saw how the city is being transformed and I felt that real sense of optimism and hope in everyone that I had the privilege to meet and talk to.
I'm delighted too that largely due to the operation EU Atalanta, piracy has fallen by 95 percent in the last year.
We have seen that Al-Shabab has been considerably weakened but we recognize there are still a threat to peace and security, and we were reminded of that earlier this week.
That is why efforts to consolidate improvements in security must continue and why security must remain a priority. That means not only for Somalia but across the region.
A stable region and a peaceful Somalia are interdependent, and it's why it's so important that we developed the Comprehensive Approach that involves political engagement, financial support to AMISOM, trade and development aid, and the work of our three missions in the region: to fight piracy, to train the Somali army and help the countries of the region build maritime security.
Much progress has already been made, Mr President. But this is just the beginning.
And we look forward to Somalia meeting all its obligations in regards to human rights and this of course will be an issue I will raise and discuss with the President shortly.
But let me end as I began. I assure you, Mr President, that you can count on the European Union to be a committed partner long into the future, and I again express my delight to see you here with your team in Brussels today. Thank you.