(fa fede solo il testo effettivamente pronunciato)
Opening address by the Hon. Minister
Mr Chairman of the International Contact Group on Somalia and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah,
Mr Prime Minister, Umar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke,
I am very pleased to welcome you to Rome and to open this meeting of the International Contact Group on Somalia, which is once again being held in its expanded format to emphasize the increasing international attention being devoted to the Somali crisis.
This meeting is particularly important, for two reasons. The first is that, in proposing to convene it in Rome two years on from the meeting we held in 2007, the Italian Government intends to re-affirm its ongoing and strong commitment to a peaceful and sustainable solution to the long-standing crisis in Somalia. The second reason stems from the very special period in which our ICG meeting is taking place: a crucial moment in light of the evolution of the situation in Somalia but, at the same time, a period of great potential in view of the International Community’s focus on Somalia in all relevant fora.
From our point of view there are grounds for cautious optimism, notwithstanding the recent outbursts of violence, which some observers believe are a reaction – by those who oppose the peace process – to the recent positive developments on Somalia. Since the end of January, Mogadishu has been ruled by a Government open to the opposition forces and to all those who have rejected violence and terrorism. Furthermore, the International Community has decided to pledge more financial resources than initially sought for AMISOM during the recent Conference in Brussels, thereby demonstrating a renewed focus on the crisis.
This attention has also been translated into a number of important documents referring to Somalia, among which I would single out the Conclusions adopted by the latest EU General Affairs and External Relations Council and Resolution no. 1872 of the United Nations Security Council. Also testifying to this renewed focus on Somalia are the encouraging results of the Brussels International Conference on support for the security sector in Somalia, and the third meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy held in New York on 29 May. Furthermore, this year Italy, as President of the G8, is making every effort to keep Somalia high on the international agenda.
Somalia is a top priority for our Cooperation for development. In the past three years, we have disbursed over 30 million EURO in development aid, notwithstanding the constraints posed by the deterioration of the security situation. We have very recently delivered emergency humanitarian aid worth 600 thousand dollars, which has been distributed under the responsibility of the Transitional Government. We are currently considering a further strengthening of our support, with a view of accompanying the peace process with targeted projects aimed at capacity building at both central and local level. The discriminating factor will be, once again, the security situation in the Country.
In this phase we are acting mainly through the UN system. In March we have authorised disbursement by UNDP of 2.6 million EURO for the Start Up Programme to support Somali government and parliamentary institutions.
Over and above what we have allotted through our Development Cooperation programs, we have also disbursed a total amount of over 12 million EUROs in support of Somali stabilisation through the “Italian Africa Peace Facility”, managed in partnership with the African Union, and an additional 2 million EUROs, largely through UNDP and UNPOS, for support of the Gibuti Agreement and of institution building and legislative reform.
We are currently in an advanced phase of consideration of a training program for the Somali security forces, worth 5 million EUROs, which we would seek to develop together with the African Union in an African training facility. We are also allotting an additional 3 million EURO, of which 1 million for AMISOM – to add to the 4 million already pledged in Brussels – and 2 million to support capacity building in the Institutions of the Somali Transitional Federal Government.
Let me now return to the wider picture.
The intolerable magnitude the problem of piracy has now reached has undoubtedly played a part in focusing the International Community’s attention on the Somali crisis. Of course piracy is only part of the problem – I would say the tip of the iceberg – as its roots and causes are to be sought elsewhere. We are extremely concerned by the phenomenon and have been directly affected by it.
We are prepared to step up our efforts, together with our Partners, to counter this illegal activity and the adverse effects piracy has on activity on the sea. In this vein, Italy shares and actively supports all the relevant international initiatives against piracy, and is also taking part, with its national units, in the EU’s “Atalanta” operation. We remain firmly convinced, however, that the deep causes of piracy off the Somali coast are rooted in the political, security and socio-economic crisis on the ground.
We must give more visibility to the Somali crisis. Peace and stability in Somalia are indeed necessary not only for the Somali people and for the Horn of Africa, but for the International Community itself. Piracy, terrorism, illegal migration, trafficking in human beings and, in short, the potential destabilization of such a strategic region constitute, in our “globalized” world, a threat to international security.
It is time to redouble our efforts. The Somali crisis can only be solved through a comprehensive approach and through the commitment of the international community. In this respect the role of the International Contact Group is essential.
As we see it, a comprehensive approach translates first and foremost into enhanced security on the ground, which must remain our top priority. Italy supports the efforts and commitment of AMISOM and we are particularly grateful to the African Union and to Burundi and Uganda, whose troops have shown courage, efficiency and humanity. We strongly support the Somali National Security Forces, as we have demonstrated through our pledge of 4 million euros at the recent Brussels Conference. We are convinced that the main responsibility for creating security and peace for the Somali people lies with the Somali Government.
A comprehensive approach also means stable and democratic political institutions, where human rights are respected and where each individual feels comfortable no matter which clan, social condition and faith he or she belongs to. We therefore support the efforts of President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Sharmarke to build a “government of national unity”, inclusive and open to all components of Somali society which reject violence and terrorism and which sincerely believe in a dialogue for national reconciliation.
A comprehensive approach also entails facing the humanitarian crisis, rebuilding the Somali economy, providing jobs for young people and giving everybody a clear perspective that things can change – and indeed are changing. We commend the involvement of the Somali diaspora in the reconciliation process and in their country’s future reconstruction process, with the ultimate goal of building a State which can function and act effectively in its own territory.
We strongly believe in the Somali ownership of the crisis and, therefore, we greatly appreciate the Somali presence at the ICG meetings on a regular basis. We are also convinced that now, more than in the past, the conditions are in place for decisive support from the international community: the United Nations, the European Union, and the regional organizations whose commitment is becoming more and more necessary: the African Union, IGAD and the League of Arab States.
Italy stands with Somalia not only for historical reasons, but also because it is unacceptable to abandon millions of people to a fate of war and violence. The Somali crisis is our crisis, it concerns the international community as a whole. If we do not commit ourselves now, tomorrow could be too late.
Before concluding, I would like to express my utmost gratitude to the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative, Ambassador Ould-Abdallah, for his commitment, his leadership and his vision as Chairman of the International Contact Group on Somalia. We share his vision and will continue to strongly support his efforts in pursuit of a just, stable and peaceful Somalia.
I finally address to all delegates my renewed thanks for your presence, together with my best wishes for good and fruitful work.