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.

 

US proposes full restoration of Western Sahara mission

UN rights chief calls Syrian crisis 'shameful realpolitik'

Air strike hits clinic in rebel-held Aleppo

South Sudan unveils unity government

Rabai al-Madhoun wins International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Turkey says Bursa bomber linked to PKK

Kuwait steps up deportations of expat workers

Iranians vote in second round of parliamentary elections

Palestinians support, Israel opposes French peace initiative

Biden in surprise Iraq visit to support embattled government

MSF condemns strike on Aleppo hospital

Lifeline to millions in Syria 'may be broken' as violence intensifies

Turkish journalists get two years for publishing Charlie Hebdo cartoon

Greece making 'incredible effort' to tackle migration issue

Iraq shuts Al-Jazeera bureau for 'instigating violence and sectarianism'

Syria regime readies for major Aleppo offensive

Israel nuclear reactor defects spark secrecy dilemma

Suicide bomber targets Aden police chief

Death toll in Syria's Aleppo rises despite UN truce plea

Italy to introduce migrant fingerprinting at sea

UN envoy plans to hold another round of Syria peace talks

27 Yemeni soldiers dead in key offensive

Global press freedom drops to lowest level in 12 years

Constitutional amendment grants Jordan king more powers

Suicide bomber blows herself up in Turkey northwestern city

Austria adopts one of EU's toughest asylum laws

Netherlands warns no safety 'guarantees' for visitors to Turkey

Battered Aleppo residents ask: Where is Syria ceasefire?

Libya kidnappers release Serbian worker

Sinai bombing kills three Egypt policemen

UAE considers tough safety code after skyscraper fires

UNESCO says Palmyra retains 'authenticity' despite damage

Khamenei says US 'fomenting Iranophobia'

Russia applauds cooperation with US on Syria

Etihad Airways sees $103 million profit in 2015

Russia asks UN to list Syria rebel group as 'terrorist'

2 Palestinians shot dead at checkpoint

Turkey PM pledges draft constitution will guarantee secularism

Greece returns 49 migrants to Turkey

Nearly quarter of Iran's parliament seats at stake in election run-off

Iraqi lawmakers approve PM’s partial cabinet

EU urges Libya parliament to endorse unity government

US General reports ISIS recruiting appeal in decline

Call for islamisation of constitution sparks concerns in Turkey

After controversial referendum, Sudan declares Darfur ‘crisis’ over