- Turkey will hold a meeting with leaders of Somaliland and Somalia in İstanbul on April 13, according to Turkish diplomatic sources.
A senior Turkish diplomat who spoke to Today's Zaman on the condition of anonymity stated that after the tripartite meeting, which will also be attended by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Somaliland President Ahmed Mahamoud Silanyo may also come together in a tête-à-tête meeting, adding that the two leaders may also hold talks with Turkish officials in Ankara after their meeting in İstanbul.
“Turkey will hold a tripartite meeting with the two leaders in order to facilitate the dialogue between them. This is the first meeting of its kind between the two leaders and Turkey is very pleased that the meeting is taking place in İstanbul. Turkey is ready to do its part for the maintenance of the dialogue between the two leaders. We are facilitating rather than mediating with this meeting,” said the diplomat.
Somaliland unilaterally declared its independence as a de facto sovereign state in 1991 after a coalition of clan-based armed opposition groups ousted the nation's long-standing military government. The area is internationally recognized as an autonomous region of Somalia.
According to the diplomat, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan may also come together with the two leaders if his schedule permits.
During his first diplomatic visit to Turkey in late December after taking office, Mohamud expressed his gratitude to the Turkish government and the nation for their support and aid and for instilling hope in Somalis. Mohamud, Somalia's president since last September, was invited to Turkey by his counterpart, President Abdullah Gül.
Silanyo visited Turkey in mid-March to have talks with Turkish officials, including Davutoğlu, who pledged to increase aid efforts to Somaliland. During his visit, Silanyo was also scheduled to meet with Erdoğan; however, the meeting had to be canceled due to Erdoğan's poor health. The diplomat stated that five ministers from the Somaliland side also attended the Davutoğlu-Silanyo meeting, which was closed to the press.
Following the meeting between Davutoğlu and Silanyo, the delegations came together over a working meal. According to the diplomat, the sides discussed the projects of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA) and other Turkish nongovernmental organizations in Somaliland. “The Turkish foreign minister pledged to increase Turkey's aid efforts in all regions of Somalia, including Somaliland. He also underlined that Somaliland is of great importance to Turkey due to historical ties that have existed since the Ottoman era,” said the diplomat.
According to the diplomat, Davutoğlu also pledged to continue his support for the reconciliation, stability, prosperity and development of Somalia. During the meeting, he also emphasized Turkey's commitment to the integrity of Somalia, said the source.
Aid from Turkey in the aftermath of the 2011 famine in Somalia, the opening of the Turkish Embassy in Mogadishu in November 2011 and a visit by Erdoğan in August 2011 to the country provided momentum for the relationship between Turkey and Somalia.
Source: Today's Zaman