Conservative MEPs hear of optimism in Somalia

01-Feb-2013 @ 10:0

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Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Anthea McIntyre Anthea McIntyre

Nirj Deva MEP, Conservatives spokesman on international development in the European Parliament chaired a meeting in Brussels with Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, President of Somalia.

Mr Mohamud was elected by the Somalian Parliament in September 2012 after eight years of democratic transition played out against a background of famine, internal instability and regional tensions.

In his address to MEPs the President stressed his determination to fight nepotism, corruption and clan rivalry in his country. He stressed his ultimate goal - to build credible and functional state institutions - and he welcomed continued EU commitment to development and humanitarian aid. In reply to Conservative foreign affairs spokesman Charles Tannock MEP's question he thanked the EU for its naval operation Eunavfor Atalanta helping to reduce piracy off Somalia's coast.

Mr Deva, alongside Mr Tannock, is a longstanding advocate of effective aid programmes in fragile states and the exercise of soft power in the Horn of Africa region.

In his intervention, Mr Deva identified piracy as a key problem. He said a long-standing power vacuum had allowed Somali pirates, predominantly young people without education, jobs or future, to become a major threat to international shipping in the area.

He said: "There are two ways out of this. On  the one hand we must do everything to step up international efforts to stop pirate attacks; on the other hand we must heal the origins, not only the symptoms, of the disease.

"We must create possibilities for youngsters to go to school and have a regular job. This only will happen when the bases for development, growth and wealth creation will be put in place."

Mr Tannock, author of the parliament's report on the Horn of Africa, discussed with President Mohamud the fight against terrorism in the region and relations with Somalia's neighbours Ethiopia and Somaliland. He concluded: "President Mohamud delivered to the European Parliament a very optimistic message from such a challenged country. He expressed his hope that peace and prosperity will prevail."

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