The past few months have brought remarkable changes in Somalia. We have seen a broad based reconciliation emerge from the Djibouti process. We have seen a peaceful leadership transition by constitutional means. And we have not seen the instability and increased violence that many feared would erupt after the Ethiopian troops pulled out. Violence has diminished, Mogadishu is more peaceful, the new leadership is back in the capital, and people have started to return to their homes.
This is a commendable achievement by the Somali people and their leaders, and we are encouraged by their progress. We would also like to recognize the efforts of Special Representative Ould Abdallah and his staff at UNPOS, a steady source of inspiration to find compromises to bring the process forward.
We are encouraged, but we know there is still a long way to go.
The new Somali leaders are facing tremendous challenges. The security situation is still tenuous. Humanitarian needs are overwhelming. Human rights and impunity are major concerns. And the reconciliation process must continue to move forward. The list of achievements has grown – but so have people’s expectations. Somalis at home and abroad are eager to see a peace that will bring not only protection, but also a more prosperous future.
We know there are still groups and elements in the country that are prepared to use violent means to overturn the achievements that have been made. This includes attacks on AMISOM peacekeepers. Such attacks can only be condemned in the strongest terms. We pay tribute to the peacekeepers from Burundi and Uganda, who stay on in spite of extremely difficult circumstances.
The international community must stand together in supporting the new Somali leadership against the elements that try to destroy the peace process. Norway supports the Security Council decision to establish a Trust Fund for support to AMISOM. And we agree on the need for a donors’ conference to solicit contributions for the Fund and for the capacity building of Somali institutions, including the Joint Security Force and the Somali Police Force.
But peace building requires more than establishing the instruments to deal with immediate threats to security. The new leadership must continue its efforts to reach out to those groups that are still not part of the peace and reconciliation process.
It is also of utmost importance that the leadership is able to respond to the people’s needs for basic services, by providing safe access for humanitarian assistance and by focusing on recovery and reconstruction. For the past few years, Norway has committed about 35 million dollars annually to Somalia. As co-founders of the International Contact Group on Somalia, and Chair of the Friends of Somalia, we will continue to be actively engaged in responding to the needs of the people of Somalia.
Off the coast of Somalia, we are pleased to see that the international community has stepped up its efforts to safeguard the sea lanes. In this Council, on 16th December 2008, Norway pledged to contribute to these naval operations. I can confirm that Norway will send one of its new frigates to participate in the EU operation ATALANTA. The preparation for the deployment of the vessel in August this year is well under way.
Norway participates actively in the International Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia and we commend the United States for its initiative to establish this group. We look forward to the continued discussions in the Contact Group on key issues such as enhanced coordination and close cooperation in order to bring to justice those who commit acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea.
A sustainable solution to the piracy problem can only be found through a comprehensive approach in which the Somali authorities - including the regional government in Puntland - have to play a key role. For this reason it might be useful to establish closer cooperation and coordination between the present operations at sea and the authorities on land, especially with regard to coastal surveillance.
The new President and his government should know that the international community is ready to fully cooperate with the new leadership. But we know that the challenges during the remaining two years of the transition period will be enormous. We will follow developments in the coming months closely, and stand ready to offer our advice and support whenever needed.