Statement by Deputy Minister Marius Fransman at the Second Istanbul Conference on Somalia, Turkey, 01 June 2012

Honourable Chairpersons; Your Excellency Prime Minister Tayyep Erdogan, Your Excellency, Mr Ban Ki-Moon,
Heads of States and Governments,
His Excellency, AU Commission Chairperson Dr Jean Ping,
Honourable Ministers,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Allow me to express from the outset, South Africa’s appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Turkey together with the United Nations for convening an international Conference of this magnitude on Somalia. This comes just after the initiative spearheaded by the Government of the United Kingdom, aimed at re-injecting the international community’s long absent interest in Somalia.

South Africa would like to acknowledge and salute the contribution and commitment demonstrated by AMISOM and the troop contributing countries. In this regard we call on all Somalis to commit themselves to the implementation of the Agreements and decisions reached thus far in order to realize the stated objectives in the Roadmap.

This Conference, as we all know, takes place at a very critical juncture in the history of Somalia - a moment that could determine the direction Somalia’s long term future could take. It is therefore imperative, that as we embark on this process of engaging and assisting Somalia to map out their future, we do so fully aware that at the end of the day Somalis themselves will have to develop their own solutions to their problems.

The Somali Roadmap, a process that is Somali-owned, serves as a necessary and firm foundation that currently stands as the only viable option to steer Somalia towards attaining meaningful and lasting peace. South Africa would like to express its support for the unremitting determination demonstrated by the Somali people to work towards achieving the objectives of the Roadmap. We are all mindful of the various challenges that have the potential to frustrate the planned process; we as the international community bear the onus of reinforcing Somali commitment and determination to realize the stated objectives.

As we envision a stable democracy in Somalia by 2015, the areas of fundamental importance that will help move Somalia towards this end require our concerted and combined support. These are: constitutional development, reconciliation, security, and economic development. Somalis have a responsibility to ensure that meaningful progress is made in these areas and the international community has a responsibility to play its part in assisting Somalis to reach these goals.

In this regard, a well-coordinated approach amongst all key players is essential. I am impressed that this conference has brought together Somalis from every strata of society to jointly develop a blueprint for the practical steps that need to be taken towards development, in tandem with the political processes that are already underway. This will serve to build a stable and functioning economy, allowing Somalia to re-enter the community of nations, while deterring young Somalis from disillusionment as well as attracting them to be part of the positive changes taking place in their country.

Economic development in Somalia is a key component that could help create a stable environment, steering the Somali population to become full participants in the growth of their country with job creation, youth employment, and homecoming incentives for the diaspora. Yesterday we had the opportunity to engage, on the sidelines of the Partnership Forums, with many Somalis currently in the diaspora and it became clear that there is wealth of knowledge, expertise and capacity amongst Somalis outside their country. South Africa, having just last week successfully hosted the African Diaspora Summit in Johannesburg, is of the view that these skilled Somalis must be supported in their return home to rebuild their nation and country. Let me reassure the Somalis that we will be by your side, helping you along so that the future generations of Africa are able to move this continent to greater heights.

As members of the international community, we each have our own unique contributions to make. Each one of us has the expertise, capital and human resource capacity to help inject the much needed momentum into these very critical processes. This can only be achieved when there is continued and regular engagement on these issues with our Somali brothers and sisters. The Partnership Forums yesterday delved deeply into the means through which we can contribute to developing sustainable peace and prosperity through multi-dimensional strategies on key areas, including water, road infrastructure, energy and the resilience required to mitigate against and adapt to changing conditions.

Emerging from the Partnership Forum on resilience is the need for Somali ownership of long term sustainable initiatives. This will not only enable the Somali people to withstand challenges but will also require support from the international community to ensure sustainable and predictable funding.

South Africa stands ready to play its part in supporting Somalia as it moves closer to realizing its vision of a prosperous and stable democracy. We are committed to assisting the Somali people through capacity and institution-building that will empower the country to respond to the challenges faced in the areas of social reconciliation, constitutional development, agriculture and food security, water catchment and drought resistance, as well as marine resource management. 

As we strive to advance these objectives, we do so conscious of the challenges on the path to democracy and economic prosperity. Somalia, with the assistance of the international community needs to evolve a developmental strategy that will be a result of engagement amongst all Somalis. We are certain however that the resolve to succeed demonstrated by the Somali people at this conference will ensure that when we meet in 2015 the story we will tell of Somalia will be different from that of today. We will be celebrating the successes. We would also urge the international community to remain engaged with the people of Somalia in rebuilding their country.

I thank you.

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