‘Turkey major contributor to Somali economy, stability’
Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has stated that Turkey has made significant contributions to the development and stability of his African country in many ways, from building infrastructure and improving health and education to peace and reconciliation efforts. Since the last visit of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Somalia, in August of 2011, Turkey has been involved in many large development projects in the country, Mohamud told Today’s Zaman in an exclusive interview while in Ankara on Saturday.
“Besides infrastructural building, delivery of services, health and education, a completely new area [to which the] Turkish Republic has contributed, under the leadership of Turkish President Abdullah Gül and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is building bridges for peace and reconciliation in Somalia,” noted Mohamud. Mohamud was in Ankara to attend a tripartite meeting hosted by Turkish with Somalia and Somaliland officials on Saturday to facilitate a reconciliation attempt between the two governments. Somalia wants to unite with Somaliland to become a single country.
Somaliland, which declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 and has been a haven of relative peace amid the chaos and bloodshed in southern Somalia, is seeking international recognition as a state. The international community is urging the sides to negotiate a solution. After the scheduled tripartite talks in Ankara, the Somali president noted that he also had a long discussion with Erdogan to further develop relations between Turkey and Somalia. “We agreed on new areas [in which the] Turkish government would support [the] Somali government in state-building, particularly on increasing Somali expertise in … public finance, planning [and the] management of a central bank in the country. There are a lot of new areas that the government of Turkey would be supporting Somalia,” the president remarked. Mohamud emphasized that Somalia is a rich country, with the only obstacle to development being its political problems. Somalia has rich oil, gas and mineral resources. In addition to around 2 million hectares of arable land in the country and thereby rich stock farming potential, the country has many opportunities for the development of its fishing sector. The country has the longest coast of all African countries at more than 3,000 kilometers. “We are now working for … stability. When … stability would be achieved, Turkish businessmen would be the most welcomed, preferred ones to come and invest in Somalia. We believe that Turkish private companies are the ones that have the capacity to come and work in regions like Somalia,” he asserted. Recalling Somalia’s socialist past, whereby the economy was exclusively under state management, Mohamud said that Turkey will be a very important international partner for the country in the present day because the reconstruction of the country will be completed through private initiatives.