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Somalia – Contact Group (Farnesina). 20 August: a historic date, after 8 years of transition, says Terzi

“Somalia will soon be reaching the historic date of 20 August, a demarcation line after 8 years of translation, with the prospect of a government and parliament in a constitutional framework that is both definite and inclusive”. This was the comment by Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi at the press conference with the Somali Premier Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, after the meeting of the Contact Group on Somalia.

Italy is playing its part to ensure that Somalia has a secure and prosperous future, explained Terzi. First of all, on the security front, with 2.6 million euros in funding for assistance and training for the Somali security forces. Most notably, our carabinieri are working with the African Union on an initial training module for around 200 police officers for their work on counter-terrorism and piracy, on which the focus is the pirates’ land-based logistical structures.

Action plan on child soldiers

“At the political level”, added Terzi, “it is essential to show the Somali people that the new Somalia is moving towards a clean break with the past”. Here, the starting point will be a new constitution that provides “space for respect for human and religious rights”. In this respect, the action plan on child soldiers signed today (3 July 2012) by the federal government and the United Nations is “an excellent signal”, added Terzi.

The role of Italian Development Cooperation to provide humanitarian assistance and support for the institutions, with projects worth 6.8 million euros, is also worthy of note. So too is the funding of 11.8 million entrusted to the UN for infrastructure and related projects.

Culture must play a key role in national reconciliation, says Terzi

In Somalia, “culture must play a key role in the national reconciliation process”, continued Terzi. He mentioned in this respect the remote learning project being conducted in collaboration with the RAI broadcasting corporation in the health, agriculture and veterinary sectors. The project, an educational TV network, is being coordinated by Professor Pier Luigi Malesani.

Another noteworthy cultural initiative is the Somali dictionary produced by Università Roma Tre. The monolingual dictionary, (Qaamuska Af-Soomaliga) contains about 50,000 words. It is “the result of a major and labour-intensive project”, explained Dr. Puglielli, the coordinator, “by Somali and Italian researchers. Forty years on from the establishment of the written form of the Somali language, the dictionary is a vital instrument for its standardisation. It’s importance is all the more evident if you consider the role of language as a component of national identity”.