Ambassador’s Notebook: Helping Rebuild Somalia

Alexander Yakovenko

I recently participated in a high level conference on Somalia which took place at Lancaster House. Since the first conference like this in 2012, Somalia has witnessed a number of significant changes. The transition period that lasted for eight years has now ended. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who was elected in September 2012, and the new government are determined to implement comprehensive measures aimed at the normalization of the situation in the country.

Given the progress already made, the following tasks are at the forefront of Somalia’s agenda: ensuring security and the rule of law in areas that have been freed from Al-Shabaab and other extremist groups, restoring the conditions needed for normal life, setting up an effective and transparent system of governance, and creating conditions for social and economic development.

At the same time, it is important to remember that there is little hope for the peace process in the absence of effective measures to fight terrorism and piracy. From our point of view, developing common approaches to the prosecution of pirates is a major way to increase the efficiency with which that evil is combated. We intend to continue cooperation with our partners along these tracks.

Russia actively participates in the international community’s coordinated efforts aimed at supporting Somalia, not least within the framework of the UN Security Council. We recognize the important role played by the UN, the African Union and regional organizations in ensuring the situation in Somalia improves. Among the main stabilizing factors, particular credit goes to the African Union Mission (AMISOM), the mandate of which has been extended by the UN Security Council to February 28, 2014. A new UN political mission should also be established in the country by June 3, 2013. We believe that this structure should play the leading role in coordinating international assistance to the Federal Government of Somalia.

In recognition of the success achieved by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s government, the Security Council has also suspended the arms embargo on the country. This opens the way for military cooperation with Mogadishu. However, this issue requires a responsible approach, particularly given the huge number of weapons that are currently circulating within Somalia. An uncontrolled supply of arms would only lead to the destabilization of the fragile situation in the country.

Russia renders assistance to Somalia and Somali refugees in the neighboring countries. Over the years 2011-2012 we allocated more than $ 10 mln in special contributions to the respective UN agencies. We are currently considering the possibility of providing further assistance to Somalia, in the form of a $ 1 mln contribution to the UN World Food Programme. Upon request from Somalia’s government, we are also ready to provide training for police staff through specialized courses run by the Russian Interior Ministry. This is even more relevant as strengthening the police was mentioned at the conference as one of the key tasks facing the country.

We reiterate our intention to provide support to the Federal Government in building a sustainable and peaceful future for Somalia and hope to see further development in our bilateral relations. My discussions with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Foreign Minister Fauzia Yusuf Adam (who speaks good Russian) have revealed a notable interest in restoring Russia-Somali ties to the level they once enjoyed, but upon a modern foundation and under different circumstances.


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