“Let it be clear: the EU remains present in Somaliland and as such there is no incidence on EU cooperation with Somaliland.”
This was stated by the first Counsellor in charge of politics, Security and information section at the European Union delegation Somalia Tom Vens during an electronic interview with investigative journalist Mahmud Walaleye on January 13, 2015.
Elaborating on the purported withdrawal of European body from Somaliland Mr Vens confirmed that the EU continues to maintain an office in Hargeisa while presumed departure was a misconception that emanated after mere office restructuring to accommodate the presence of EUCAP NESTOR.
On the issue of the Khatumo secessionist movement that aspires to establish a Khatumo state of Somalia presumably to be carved out of some parts of Eastern Somalia, the EU diplomat said that issue was solely an internal matter to Somaliland and as such the Continental has not taken any position but urges dialogue to overcome any differences.
Below are the verbatim excerpts of the interview:
Q. What was the reason behind sealing EU Hargeisa field office, and doesn’t that denote ending cooperation between Somaliland?
A. The EU continues to be present in Hargeisa and merely restructured its office. With the relocation to the EUCAP NESTOR presences, overall EU presence remains strong.
The EU also maintains a significant operational presence in Somaliland and our engagement with Somaliland remains important.
EU funding in Somaliland continues to support education, resilience, infrastructure, civil society support, governance, health, water and sanitation as well as programs that specifically target vulnerable groups like children, women and youth.
Q. Did EU officials consult the Somaliland ministry of foreign affairs, before the move?
A. The EU enjoys a cordial relationship with the administration including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and all issues pertinent to our relations are discussed on a regular basis. As the EU did not close its presence this was not the subject of a formal communication.
Q. Finalizing Berbera corridor faced some way or the other barriers, what is the status technical workshop to be implemented and contribution fund EU pledged?
A. This remains under discussion and given the strong interests for the sub- region, the EU and other partners remain fully committed to this initiative.
Q. If process of opening sub-delegation office in Hargeisa were discussion hold between Somaliland and EU two years back, Doesn’t relocation steps at Hargeisa field office now mean degrading Somaliland position, and to be administered under EU delegation office to be established in Muqdisho?
A. The EU presence in Hargeisa remains. There is no change in the relations between the EU and Somaliland.
Q. Will EU be ready sending international delegation during next year’s presidential and parliament elections as it has done 2010?
A. The EU supports democratic elections in Somaliland and closely follows the electoral process. It is too early to determine how the EU will monitor the next elections.
Q. Dr. Ali khalif struggles how Khatumo state consisting Sool, Sanag and Buhodle being adjoined Somalia state formation process, what is the EU position?
A. This is an internal matter. The EU has not taken a position on this but encourages dialogue to overcome any differences.
Q. Lastly, how would future cooperation, ongoing or anticipated future EU-funded projects being implemented inside Somaliland when no office or representative is present?
a. Let it be clear: the EU remains present in Somaliland and as such there is no incidence on EU cooperation with Somaliland.
We continue with our development support to the people and to work and engage with authorities.
We thank you for your inquiries and hope to continue to closely work together.
Freelance journalist Mohamoud Walaaleeye