Saturday, February 25, 2012
Turkey ready to give military assistance to Somalia
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said Turkey is ready to provide military assistance to Somalia in order to help establish political stability.
Wrapping up talks in London after Thursday’s summit on Somalia, Davutoğlu urged the international community to bolster the strength of African Union (AU) peacekeeping forces and provide them with more resources, saying Turkey is ready to provide such assistance, at a press conference.
In 2010, Turkey signed an agreement to train Somali soldiers at a UN-backed international Somalia summit in İstanbul.
The AU, a regional body consisting of 54 African states, maintains an African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) as part of the peace mission to stabilize the security situation in the country, along with Kenyan and Ethiopian troops. Somalia has been in a state of anarchy since 1991, when warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned on each other.
Davutoğlu highlighted Turkey’s important role in mediating between conflicting factions in Somalia, saying that Turkey would continue to provide all kinds of support to establish permanent peace in the country. Davutoğlu claimed that Somalia is currently passing through an important political phase, adding, “All the conflicting parties [in Somalia] respect Turkey, that is the reason they give importance to Turkey’s presence in the mediation process.”
Denying claims that Turkey and France are battling to influence the political transitional process in Somalia, Davutoğlu stressed that by assisting the country Turkey is only fulfilling its responsibilities to a country which shares the heritage of the Ottoman Empire, which had close links with Somalia. He said Turkey is not involved in rivalry with any country in that sense.
“Turkey extends aid to Somalia as a humanitarian obligation, not as a result of strategic interests,” Davutoğlu said, adding that Somalis are grateful to Turkey for its efforts.
“Turkey has kept all its promises towards Somalia in the short time since last year’s Istanbul conference,” Davutoğlu asserted, highlighting Turkish efforts to provide medical assistance and develop a diplomatic presence in the country. Davutoğlu stressed that every country attending the conference in London referred to Turkey’s efforts and added that the second international conference in Somali will be held in İstanbul in June.
Citing that Turkey is one of the few countries that plans to open an embassy in Mogadishu, Davutoğlu said he called on other countries to open embassies in Somalia during the conference. The conference brought together representatives from 40 countries and various international and regional organizations, such as UN, the World Bank, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).