By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – “Though Her Majesty Government-HMG has strengthened her relationship with Mogadishu the UK remains a key strategic partner of Somaliland”
This was informed by the British Deputy ambassador to Ethiopia Mr. Chris Allan during an interview with reporter Mahmud Walaleye in Hargeisa where the envoy is visiting on official duties also revealed that HMG has maintain a full diplomatic presence in the country since 2012 when a consular office was established in Hargeisa.
As he revealed that UK will spend up to £95m in Somaliland up until 2015 in development assistance, and is putting £25m into the Somaliland Development Fund, which will help in areas like health education, and governance the British envoy also denied that the international community is snubbing Somaliland for refusal to participate in conferences where issues Somalia were the only agenda.
Stressing on this fact Mr. Allan reminded of the continued interactions between senior levels of the London and Hargeisa examples being the meeting between president Silanyo and prime minister Cameroon, just concluded meeting between foreign minister Behi Yonis and the UK minister for Africa and regular meetings held by country’s Ministers with UK representatives both in the UK, and in the region, to discuss a wide variety of issues.
Said he “The UK believed (and continues to believe) that it was in Somaliland’s long term interests to attend a major international conference covering issues that directly affect its interests. However, it was always a matter for Somaliland’s elected leaders to decide whether or not to participate”
During his visit to Somaliland Mr. Chris Allan has met and held discussions with various stakeholders in the country chief among them president Silanyo
Below are the verbatim excerpts of the Interview
Do we deduce, ever since UK started leading Somalia’s affairs, on the other hand overturned its close cooperation regarding Somaliland, because of Somaliland’s snub of preferred Somalia’s conferences to attend your government, what is you argument?
The UK is a key strategic partner for Somaliland. That will not change even as we strengthen our relationship with Mogadishu. The British Government will spend up to £95m in Somaliland up until 2015 in development assistance, and is putting £25m into the Somaliland Development Fund, which will help in areas like health education, and governance.
The UK believed (and continues to believe) that it was in Somaliland’s long term interests to attend a major international conference covering issues that directly affect its interests. However, it was always a matter for Somaliland’s elected leaders to decide whether or not to participate. We continue to have close links with the Somaliland Administration. Somaliland Ministers regularly meet with UK representatives both in the UK, and in the region, to discuss a wide variety of issues. The Prime Minister meet President Silanyo in April this year. The Minister for Foreign Affairs recently met our Minister for Africa.
The UK formally opened an office in Hargeisa on the 3 September, 2012, in line with the Foreign Secretary’s intent to establish a presence in Mogadishu and Hargeisa as soon as local conditions allow. This office enables officials to stay in Hargeisa for short periods to carry out diplomatic work in Somaliland. Because of the security situation this office will have only very limited consular functions.
We have locally engaged staff, who work on projects and political work. British diplomats based in the region visit Hargeisa regularly.
Since Jan,20 10- UK took new policy to increase its dialogue and development assistance with Somaliland, up to now, what measures were taken, both political and financial? And what amount does UK earmarked Somaliland’s development assistance cooperation till today?
HMG will spend up to £95m in Somaliland up until 2015 in development assistance, and is putting £25m into the Somaliland Development Fund, which will help in areas like health education, and governance.
Earlier, UK reiterated, facilitating further needs of dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia, hence, there is controversial matter that might fuel reaching last accord, where ICAO unilaterally delegated management of Somalia’s airspace to TFG, although, Somaliland and Somalia agreed shared management in Turkey, what can you furnish UK stand regarding the matter?
The UK welcomed the initiative by Turkey to facilitate a meeting between the two parties in April, and in July 2013. The Ankara Communiqué endorses and builds on last year’s ‘Chevening House Declaration’ by agreeing to work together on areas of mutual cooperation, specifically identifying the security sector in the fight against terrorism and other serious crime. We stand ready to support this process further if requested by the parties.
The management of Somali airspace is a matter for Government authorities in of Somaliland and the federal Government to agree between them.
Somaliland population most depend remittances from their relatives abroad, particularly where largest Diaspora resides UK, and because of Barclays decision to close all accounts of Dahabshiil, largest remittance company depended families of Somaliland started losing confidence of UK government hesitant to come out solution, what assurances would you have towards them?
The Government is taking this issue seriously and has held discussions with the banks and the Somali Money Service Associations (SOMSA). Senior diplomats have twice met the CEO of Dahabshiil to discuss his concerns. Any solution will need all of the stakeholders to come together collectively. The Government will now form an Action Group on Cross-Border Remittances, which will help clarify guidance for banks on dealing with remittance companies. The National Crime Agency will help banks and money transfer companies to help identify the risks better. DFID is developing a pilot project to help develop secure remittance channels to Somalia. Regulators have also committed to making it as easy as possible for remittance companies to carry on trading, within the scope of the relevant legislation, and will help money transmitters improve their compliance. In the meantime, it is still possible to remit money back to Somalia from the UK.