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23 September 2010 - Mini-summit on Somalia - Speech by Mr. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

(Unofficial translation)

Mr. Secretary-General,

Heads of State and Government,

Ministers,

Dear friends,

Somalia is now at a critical moment in its history: there is hope, but this hope is fragile. Today, more than ever, the entire international community must rally behind the transitional institutions in order to support peace and reconstruction in Somalia.

Mr. Secretary-General, I thank you for having convened this meeting, 4 months after the conference that you organized in Istanbul with the Turkish Prime Minister.

So what has happened since Istanbul?

Extremists are continuing, day after day, to demonstrate their barbarity and their determination to undermine the fragile peace that resulted from the Djibouti process. There is attack after attack, hitting civilians, the authorities and the African Union peacekeeping force (AMISOM) without respite. Again today, almost 20 civilians were killed in a new attack by al-Shabab, whose capacity to inflict harm now extends beyond Somalia. Our Ugandan friends, who are among the main troop contributors to AMISOM, bore the brunt of the brutal attacks that took place in Kampala on July 11.

But Uganda and Burundi are not weakening. Their governments have not given up at all and the African Union peacekeepers demonstrate their courage every day on the ground. I want, here, to pay tribute to them and to tell them that France stands alongside them.

Despite the bloody determination of the extremists, we are also receiving some positive signs, including from Mogadishu:

- the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) has expanded its political base in the spirit of the Djibouti Agreement - Mr. President [Sharif], you know that you can count on France’s full support. You have an arduous mission but you represent hope for peace and we urge you to go further;

- a draft Constitution is currently under discussion in order to complete the transition;

- in close collaboration with the African Union and IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development), the new Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Mahiga, has made a lot of progress with respect to coordinating international support, and I would like to pay tribute to his determination to ensure the continued presence of the UN in Somalia itself. There are obvious risks there, but we cannot give up. The stakes are too high - not just for Somalia, but for the credibility of the UN’s action in the country. The message that I would like to convey to you today is simple. We are all committed to supporting the Djibouti process and we cannot step back or, worse, shirk our responsibilities. We must do more and do it more effectively.

Everyone must assume their responsibilities.

— The TFG, first of all. The internal squabbling that we have observed over the last few months is unacceptable and irresponsible. It led to the resignation of the Prime Minister two day ago. These disputes, which are often not justified, lead to inertia. The main danger now threatening the TGF comes from within itself. The transition is due to be completed in barely 10 months time - and so much remains to be achieved in order to convince the population that peace and stability are preferable to chaos and anarchy.

— AMISOM. More than 7000 African Union troops ensure the security of supplies to Mogadishu - notably with respect to humanitarian assistance - and to the transitional institutions. It is an essential mission for Somalia. I solemnly urge all those who can to support this initiative which now has significant requirements. France supports the strengthening of AMISOM, as demanded by the African Union, if it helps to loosen the vise in which the TFG finds itself.

— The United Nations. I would like to reiterate here what I emphasized in Istanbul: France demands that all UN organs working in Somalia be placed under the responsibility of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative who will thus, finally, have the means to ensure the coherence and effectiveness of the UN’s action in Somalia. This is crucial to the future of Somalia. It’s crucial to the credibility of the United Nations. We cannot tolerate contradictory actions by our own international agencies at such a critical moment. The Security Council supports the TFG. It asked the United Nations to accompany it on this path. This commitment doesn’t just concern the Political Office but all of the organs, including the humanitarian agencies.

— The international community. The TFG must be supported to a greater extent by direct aid. Admittedly this is not easy since we do not all have the same tools. There again, those that can have a duty to support the Somali government, which will then be able to implement policies to support the population. I am also counting on the Somali Diaspora which has a critical role to play in supporting the country’s authorities.

- Lastly, I would like to say something about the areas that are enjoying a certain level of stability: the regions of Somaliland and Puntland. The international community already provides considerable aid to these regions. But this aid could be increased, particularly with respect to strengthening the rule of law. I am thinking in particular of the sentencing and imprisonment of pirates which is critical to putting an end to the impunity that is currently reigning supreme in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean. No military operation can eliminate it; we need to address the roots of the problem.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We must continue to make progress so that Somalia’s history is not reduced to a tragic series of missed opportunities. We must not allow Somalia to be exposed to extremists and to degenerate into chaos. We owe it the Somalis. We owe it to ourselves.

Thank you./.



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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU