Historical archive

Norway's Opening Address at the ICG-meeting on Somalia

Historical archive

Published under: Stoltenberg's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Madrid, 27 September 2010

In his opening address State Secretary Espen Barth Eide said: ”As the TFGs present transitional period has entered its final year, the situation in Mogadishu and large parts of the country is alarming. We are deeply concerned with both the security situation and with the state of affairs of the humanitarian side”.

Your  Excellency Mr. President Sheikh Shariff Ahmed
Mr. Chairman.
Dear colleagues and friends,

The International Contact Group on Somalia was established for the purpose of trying better to coordinate international efforts to assist Somalia in finding a way towards peace, security and stability. Through this, we also hoped gradually to be able to contribute to bring Somalia out of its status as a “failed state”, and create a better life for the people of Somalia. 

As we meet here in Madrid today, that originally small “group of friends” has now expanded to an ICG with somewhere between 30 – 40 members, which demonstrates the broad engagement of the international community in this crucially important issue. In spite of this, however, we are still far from achieving the vision and the objectives that we set for ourselves. Most Somalis would probably say they are worse off today than they were five years ago, and countries in the region are, quite understandably, even more concerned about developments in Somalia.

As the TFGs present transition period has entered its final year , the situation in Mogadishu and large parts of the country is alarming. We are deeply concerned with both the security situation and with the state of affairs on the humanitarian side. Al-Shabaab and other extremist groups are in control of a most of South-Central Somalia. The Transitional Federal Institutions seem to be more occupied with internal divisions and squabble over political positions than to confront these groups effectively and to provide security for the population.

Regretfully, in the current circumstances the TFG is also not able to deliver any essential services to the civilian population in areas under its control, or to provide AMISOM with the necessary political support to function as an effective peacekeeping force. 

There is an obvious need to strengthen AMISOM as well as the Somali Transitional Federal Institutions, including the National Security Forces and the criminal justice system. At the same time the present Somali leadership has to get its act together and show a unity of purpose both to the Somali people and to the international community. 

Neither AMISOM nor the international community can solve the problems in Somalia. This is something that can only be done by the Somalis themselves. But we can assist. And let me reiterate that we are ready to assist - provided that we have a partner that we can work with and rely upon; a partner that has a vision and a determination to bring Somalia out of its present chaos and to improve the life of the ordinary Somali people. 

We encourage the involvement and empowerment of Somali women in the political process to achieve lasting peace. 

But, colleagues, time is short. The present mandate of the Transitional institutions will come to an end in less than a year. It is therefore urgent now to focus on the transitional tasks, including finalizing a new constitution and to pursue the process of national reconciliation with all the groups that are not yet a part of the Djibouti-process. In this endeavour it may be useful also to draw on the experiences both of the large Somali Diaspora, and of the regional authorities in Somaliland - as well as in Puntland - which have proved to be more successful in dealing with such challenges.   I would like to commend the successful recent elections and peaceful change of power in Somaliland.  This should serve as an example for the rest of Somalia. 

The Somali conflict cannot be solved by military means alone, and this is why it is vital to continue the process of reconciliation, and to build a broad alliance of all those who want to find a peaceful solution to Somalia’s problems, against those who seek power through brute force and terror. We are increasingly seeing that the present conflict is also a battle over the support of the Somali people. For this reason it is important that the TFG may be able to prove to the ordinary people that the government is relevant in their lives and that it is trying to do something for them, like providing certain basic services within the areas under its control.  Unless the Transitional Institutions can gain the trust and support of the Somali people they are likely to loose out, no matter how many troops that AMISOM might be bringing into the country. 

I believe we may now be entering a critical stage in Somalia. For this reason I also believe that our efforts to assist Somalia at the present time are even more crucial than before. This is why we so strongly appeal to You, Mr. President, and to the TFG to use what is left of your mandate to more bring about a positive change for your country.  Likewise, we, the partners in the ICG, should be ready to seize the moment, and to go an extra mile, in order to support the Somali people in its quest for the peace, the security and the stability that they so very much need and deserve.