While the “Istanbul II Communiqué is essentially a framework agreement for continued talks between Somalia and Somaliland”
By: Yusuf M Hasan
Somalilandsun – In acquiescing, in Istanbul to atrocities having been perpetrated the Somalia Federal Government-SFG only condemns the actions of the Siad Barre government but does not seem intended to apply to any subsequent government in Somalia.
This is how Ambassador David Shinn perceives the last point of the Istanbul II Communiqué which was the outcome of fifth phase of internationally sanctioned talks between Somaliland and Somalia the neigbouring countries whose voluntary union of 1960 was dissolved when Somaliland a former British protectorate re-declared its sovereignty in 1991 signed the nine points Istanbul II Communiqué on the 17th Jan 2014 after three days of talks hosted by the government of Turkey.
Amb David H. Shinn, Adjunct Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University and a former US ambassador to Ethiopia (1996-99) and to Burkina Faso (1987-90) made the interpretations to the last point and others of the Istanbul II Communiqué which was the outcome of fifth phase of internationally sanctioned talks between Somaliland and Somalia during an exclusive interview with investigative journalists Mahmud Walaleye of Somalilandsun.
On the effectiveness of international companies investing in various sectors under contract from gthe government in Hargeisa as pertains to the from 1991 till now elusive quest for international recognition by Somaliland as a sovereign nation Amb Shinn urges the lobbying of “governments since they , Governments, not the private sector, make decisions on international recognition”
On the duration and ultimate outcome of the Somaliland Somalia talks that whose sixth phase is slated for 3rd March 2014 David Shinn who opinionates that “they are likely to take many months before there is success on tangible issues” is also positive on the impartiality of Turkey a country he thinks hasn’t any ulterior motive but only is trying to play the role of a neutral and helpful mediator.
On the other hand the Horn analyst says the realization of a joint air traffic control body within 45 days from 18th Jan is the litmus test for continued dialogue between Somaliland and Somalia.
Read below the full verbatim excerpts of the interview with Amb David Shinn
Q: Is the Istanbul II Communiqué of 18 January 2014 a resounding victory for the people and government of Somaliland or Somalia?
A: I do not read too much into the Istanbul II Communiqué. It is essentially a framework agreement for negotiating teams from Somalia and Somaliland to continue talks. It is an expansion of the previous agreements at Chevening, Dubai, Ankara and Istanbul I. I conclude that it is a modest victory for both Somaliland and Somalia because it keeps both parties in dialogue.
Q: Does the agreement by the parties to resolve “all problems and disputes in an exclusively peaceful manner” end Puntland’s claims on parts of Somaliland in a Somali or international court?
A: So long as the claims over parts of Somaliland are pursued peacefully, I don’t see that this commitment ends the possibility of legal claims. If you are referring to international arbitration, however, both sides normally have to agree in advance to this arrangement.
Q: Does the statement that “we condemn all the atrocities committed by that regime [the military regime before 1991] throughout all Somali people particularly the people in Somaliland” place the blame on Somalia and give Somaliland grounds for future legal action?
A: I interpret this statement narrowly. It condemns the actions of the Siad Barre government but does not seem intended to apply to any subsequent government in Somalia.
Q: The Turkish Foreign Ministry in a press release welcomed “the Communiqué aiming at developing the relations between the governments of Somalia and Somaliland.” Is there a bias or double standard in Turkey’s policy towards either Somaliland or Somalia?
A: This statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry seems even handed and appropriate. I think it is a reflection that Turkey is trying to play the role of a neutral and helpful mediator. I don’t see any ulterior motive.
Q: Will engagement by more private foreign companies in Somaliland help Somaliland achieve international recognition?
A: While increased engagement by private foreign companies in Somaliland will aid economic development and give additional positive publicity to Somaliland, I doubt that this activity will have much impact on international recognition. Governments, not the private sector, make decisions on international recognition.
Q: How long do you predict these discussions will continue and, if ultimately futile, what can the international community do to intervene in the process?
A: These talks are likely to take many months before there is success on tangible issues. The parties agreed in Istanbul II to nominate members to an Air Traffic Control Board within 45 days. If this happens and an effective Air Traffic Control Board is created, it will be an important indication that tangible progress can be achieved. There need to be more steps like this that benefit both parties. This creates trust in Somalia and Somaliland. This kind of progress also gives more time to Somalia to reassert control over its territory.
Turkey effectively represents the international community in this effort. If this effort fails, I don’t see any other member of the international community quickly trying to replace Turkey.