First Published: 2013-01-30

 

Somali President wins new boost with high-profile EU visit

 

Somalia secures promises of ‘new deal’ during EU visit by its leader that comes days after government in Horn of Africa nation formally won US recognition.

 

Middle East Online

‘Somalia is where Europe was in 1945’

BRUSSELS - Somalia secured promises of an economic and political "new deal" during a high-profile EU visit by its leader Wednesday that comes days after the government in the Horn of Africa nation formally won US recognition.

Taking Somalia an extra step forward in its return to the international fold, new Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud met top European Union officials at the start of a two-day visit that includes talks with the EU's 27 foreign ministers on Thursday.

Announcing the EU would host a global conference in the autumn to set out a "new deal" for Somalia, the bloc's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton hailed "the beginning of a new era".

"Somalia has come a long way," said Ashton, pointing to a 95 percent drop in piracy off the Somalia coast and the beating back over the past two years of Islamist Shehab insurgents.

EU has funnelled 640 million euros of aid into Somalia over the last five years as part of a three-pronged approach of defence, diplomacy and development, a formula that the bloc is likely to try on beleaguered West African state Mali in the coming weeks, likewise under attack from Islamist fighters.

But Mohamud said the nation now needed to move from being a country "in relief" to one in recovery.

"Somalia is where Europe was in 1945," Mohamud said. "Everything is zero, everything has to be started from scratch. And we cannot do it alone.

"We need the support of the whole international community and in particular the support of the European Union."

At the bloc's headquarters in Brussels, Mohamud met EU president Herman Van Rompuy and Ashton and was to meet later with the head of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso.

A university lecturer, Mohamud was elected in September after eight years of transitional rule by a corruption-riddled government, raising hopes of an effective central government after more than two decades of chaos and war.

Recent months have seen a 17,000-strong African Union force, fighting alongside government forces -- many of them EU-trained -- and Ethiopian soldiers remove Shehab insurgents from the capital and from key towns.

Last week, EU ministers agreed to extend an EU mission to train Somali soldiers for another two years at a cost of around 11 million euros. Launched in 2010 it has trained some 3,000 Somali troops.

The EU's anti-piracy mission off the Somali coast, EUNAVFOR, has also been extended until December 2014. And the EUCAP Nestor mission assists Somalia and other countries to improve maritime security.

A senior EU official said the visit "symbolises a highly significant shift in the way the world sees Somalia and Somalia sees the world."

"We want to encourage Somalia, say we are with them, that we take them seriously," he added.

He said next steps for Somalia will necessitate a new deal with its global partners to clear its huge financial arrears and put in place international aid programmes to help establish the government's legitimacy.

Mohamud's administration too will need to continue extending control over the territory and improving security while easing testy relations with its neighbours.

Less than two weeks ago Mogadishu took a crucial step on launching a new era in its ties with the United States, which recognised its government for the first time since 1991.

"Today is a milestone. It is not the end of the journey, but it is an important milestone towards that end," said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after meeting Mohamud.

 

Saudi mosque attack intended to fan sectarian tension

Israeli deputy FM: 'All of it is ours'

Obama offers Tunisia closer security ties

IS fighters attack Iraq forces east of Ramadi

Israel solicits Platini to sway FIFA

Sudan's Islamists protest against el-Sisi

Islamic State claims Saudi mosque bombing

Islamic State reinforces ‘caliphate’ with control of borders

Iraqi forces to launch Ramadi offensive

Tunis asks Rome to extradite terror suspect

Suicide bomb attack on Saudi Shiite mosque

Saudi-led coalition warplanes pound Sanaa outskirts

Shebab gunmen raid Kenya village

Kuwait businessman Khorafi dies at 75

Yemen air strikes continue as Iran calls for talks

Israeli court orders release of Khalida Jarrar

Netanyahu meets with Arab leader Ayman Odeh

U.S. sanctions two companies linked to Iran's plane purchases

Iran supports Yemen talks, denounces foreign interference

IS militants call for attacks on Egypt's judges

11 killed in fresh Libya violence

Assad regime losses in Syria

Obama looks to bolster Tunisia's democratic gains

Turkey opposition unveils plan to build new 'mega-city' in Anatolia

Iraqi prime minister seeks Russian support against Islamic State

Iraq's Sunni tribes feel distrust towards Baghdad after Ramadi fall

Morocco illegal migrant arrest fuels Italy row

Qatar ‘failing to deliver’ on promised labour reforms

US to sell bombs, missiles to Israel, helicopters to Saudis

IS jihadists in full control of Syria's Palmyra

Yemen government wants rebel pullback before joining Geneva talks

Morocco King names four new ministers in second reshuffle

Gaza reconstruction going ‘far more slowly than expected’

France kills two jihadist chiefs in Sahel region

Clashes with ‘Islamic State’ rage on near Libya city of Sirte

Protests in Tunisia phosphate-producing region intensify

Iran aid ship to dock in Djibouti for inspection

Israel to face FIFA suspension bid

Letters of Bin Laden reveal accurate fear of surveillance

Yemen talks to open May 28 in Geneva

‘Islamic State’ fighters take control of Palmyra northern sector

Palestinian driver shot by Israeli police

New Egypt justice minister sworn in after judge's gaffe

IS, Syria regime locked in fierce battles near Palmyra

Rajoub: Conditions not ready for Israel-Palestine "match for peace"