London Conference on Somalia
London, February 23, 2012
Allow me to begin by thanking the British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, on behalf of the French government, for organizing this conference at a critical time for Somalia, and also for his personal commitment to supporting peace in the country.
Why are we here together today?
Because the people of Somalia, who have endured 20 years of war and who are confronted by a terrible famine, have the right to live in a peaceful country, where there is no lack of food and water;
Because the Somalia tragedy affects the whole of the Horn of Africa and fuels rivalries, hatred and terrorism;
Because the security of the seas is threatened a little more every day by piracy, which is principally rooted in the absence of development prospects in Somalia;
Because we ourselves are direct victims of al-Shabaab, whose al-Qaeda-linked militias resort to terrorism and hostage-taking to try to impose their law on that region. We have not forgotten that one of our compatriots, Marie Dedieu, who was abducted in Kenya and delivered into the hands of Islamic militias, died in terrible conditions.
Nor have we forgotten our people held hostage in Somalia, and elsewhere in Africa.
France expects this conference to show the international community’s determination to make every possible effort to assure the Somalian people of a future and to contribute to the rebirth of a sovereign, united and independent Somalia. In recent years, my country has been mobilized ceaselessly. Today, it is more determined than ever to pursue its efforts to achieve.
Today’s meeting must firstly give new momentum to the reconstruction of the Somalian state.
We initiated this reconstruction process with the Somalis in recent years, with the creation of a Transitional Federal Government (TFG), responsible for laying the foundations of a new Somali state, and in particular for promoting lasting peace and reconciliation. In a few months, thanks to the support of France, Europe and the whole international community, progress has been made. I am thinking of the signature of the Kampala Accord, September’s roadmap and the Garowe Principles adopted in December. I am also thinking of the success on the ground in the face of al-Shabaab.
It is essential today to maintain that momentum. In the new Somalia which is being born, each group in the country must have its place.
This is why the reconstruction of the Somali state also requires enhanced dialogue with local entities. The authorities in Mogadishu need to better take into account the singularity of Somaliland, Puntland and Galmudug. In return, the regions must express their commitment to a united country. I am convinced that every party can be satisfied. All Somali entities have the right to participate in this dialogue, so long as they commit to respecting the country’s unity and territorial integrity, to combating terrorism and all forms of violence, and to seeking to end maritime piracy.
Politically, there is no alternative to a sui generis solution coming from the Somalis themselves. It is the responsibility of the international community not to take the place of this reconciliation and dialogue process, but to provide support to it.
Our second objective is to re-establish peace and security nationwide. The challenges are immense.
The first challenge is security on the ground. The current situation is not sustainable. Al-Shabaab must lay down its arms and renounce violence.
The international community has spared no effort. I would like in particular to commend the fundamental role of the African Union, through AMISOM, its mission in Somalia, for which France has trained over 16,000 African soldiers in five years. I would like to pay tribute to the dedication of the African contingents, from Uganda, Burundi and now Djibouti. It is because we are convinced of AMISOM’s key role that we decided yesterday in New York to agree to the African Union’s request to increase its numbers and its resources.
In the liberated areas, it is primarily the responsibility of Somali forces to ensure peace reigns. Not a fragile peace imposed from the outside, but a Somali peace, for which the Somali people themselves take responsibility. This is why we are determined to continue training Somali police officers and soldiers, on a bilateral basis, as we have done in Djibouti, and also, above all, under the European Union Training Mission (EUTM) in Uganda, to which France provides her full financial and human support. Today, the success of this mission is recognized by all its partners, be they the Somali and Ugandan authorities, the United Nations or the African Union, and especially AMISOM. Following their training in Uganda, 1,700 soldiers have already returned to Somalia, where they participate actively, alongside AMISOM, in fighting al-Shabaab and controlling Mogadishu. More than 600 additional recruits will join them shortly.
The second challenge is maritime security. How can we accept that a small group of people are spreading terror on the oceans? How can we accept that despite the determined efforts of the international community, piracy continues to spread?
In 2008, France was the first to respond to the World Food Programme’s appeal to protect its vessels from this threat. And so Operation Atalanta was born, and other partners are today helping fight piracy.
But we must go further.
Greater resources are needed, as well as greater commitment from Somalia’s partners.
The Somali authorities must implement the roadmap endorsed on 6 September 2011.
We must put an end to the scandalous impunity of pirates once and for all. This means supplementing our efforts with a strategy on the ground. On a bilateral and European basis, we are working to develop the maritime and judicial capacities of the region’s countries, particularly in Somalia – where we have long proposed the establishment of a specialized court – in order to help them combat piracy themselves. At European level, we are therefore supporting the launch, in the summer, of a CSDP mission to strengthen the region’s maritime and judicial capacities: the EUCAP mission.
On these points, we expect the conference bringing us together today to provide significant momentum.
Lastly, we must work together to rebuild Somalia’s economy.
It is urgent to find an answer to the humanitarian crisis. Here again, how can we not be revolted by the situation? In 2012, how can we accept that humanitarian aid should be blocked, or, worse, diverted, and that the Somali population, women and children, should die through lack of help? France will never resign herself to that.
True, faced with the gravity of the situation, the international community has responded. Beyond the €77 million of humanitarian assistance provided by the European Union, to which France contributed substantially, we immediately reacted by allocating €30 million of bilateral aid to the Horn of Africa in 2011, including €25 million for Somalia. We will continue these efforts.
It is the duty of the international community today to condemn all attacks against the civilian population in the strongest terms. It is our duty to create a collective conscience regarding the Somali tragedy.
To respond to the humanitarian crisis also means thinking about tomorrow’s development. From today we must prepare the reconstruction of Somalia, by encouraging the resumption of economic activity, particularly in priority sectors such as port and fishing activities, cattle exports and the regulated development of telecommunications services.
We do not underestimate the scale of the task, nor the difficulties faced by Somalia and her people. Whilst the action of our governments is vital, we must also recreate the conditions needed for our companies to consider working in Somalia again.
This is why France welcomes the recent decision of the United Nations to set up the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) in Mogadishu. That is a major political act.
This is also why we would like the European Union to increase its presence in Somalia. We welcome the appointment in early January of Mr Alexander Rondos as the European Union’s Special Representative for Somalia. We are counting on him to guarantee, with the help of the European External Action Service and the Commission, the follow-up and visibility of the European Union’s aid and to allow Europe to contribute fully to the political process that we very much want to see.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We approve the conclusions of this conference unreservedly. We call upon all actors to resolutely pledge to implement the guidelines that are set.
We are proud to be taking part, and we are proud of the impressive human and financial support that the European Union is giving Somalia.
Hope can be reborn in Somalia today.
Thank you very much./.