Only a day after what many termed as a leakage of diplomatic ineptitude on the part of the Ambassador of Turkey to Somalia/Somaliland, the honorable Olgen Bekar, His Excellency the Somaliland Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Saad Ali Shirreh, proved more adept in international relations and foreign diplomacy than the Turkish emissary in an expertly handled press conference he held in Hargeisa on Sunday, July 31st.
Firstly, where the honorable Ambassador could have used his country’s strong economic and political leverage on Somalia to catalyze the near-stalled talks between Somaliland and Somalia, Ambassador Bekar played up to Mogadishu’s over-bloated egos and make-belief aspirations to an already dead, defunct union.
“Turkey is looking for a strong, unified Somalia,” he said, making his country and superiors appear hypocritic in their role as mediators between the two erstwhile partners in the Somali Republic union.
In contrast, His Excellency the Minister reminded Turkey that it should, instead, re-assume its role as an impartial moderator of the talks.
“We urge our good friend, Turkey, to remain neutral in the talks between Somalia and Somaliland on the union issue,” he said.
The minister walked Turkey through a brief history of Somaliland to muffle the unlettered union claims of an unlettered leadership in Somalia. He recalled that Somaliland went into a legally, unconsummated union with Somalia as a fully-fledged nation with its own constitution, parliament, Prime Minister and other state organs well developed and internationally recognized as an independent, sovereign state by the United Nations and the world.
“Our people suffered persecution, were deprived of so many rights while that union lasted. They decided to restore their sovereignty and once again go on their way as an independent nation,” he stated. “We have been independent – our own masters – now for the past twenty-five years”.
“The Republic of Somaliland,” he FM reminded H.E. the Ambassador “has its own national flag, currency, passport and state apparatii which permit it to enter bilateral agreements with other states, the UN agencies and other international bodies. The presence of the Turkish mission here is a manifestation of our un-ignorable, legal being,” he said.
Secondly, His Excellency the Minister gently pointed out to the honorable minister that every passport was a form if identity, only that it was a legal document primarily used for traveling, and for identification where necessary.
“The Somaliland passport is honored by many countries around the world, and that it has been used to enter and leave Turkey, itself, in the past,” the Minister told an envoy who, apparently, was not certain of the facts.
Ambassador Bekar, who obviously had not researched the facts very well as they pertain to the Somaliland passport, told an impressionable, Somalia media that ecstatically danced to the sweet tune the Ambassador was playing for their convenience, that ‘visas were issued (to Somalilanders) on a paper/form’ by their consulate in Hargeisa’ when they wished to visit Turkey.
The Ambassador’s words were not only rash and ‘false’, but could yet drive a wedge between the budding relations of the two countries, despite the fact that Turkey appears to be piling all of its eggs in a Somalia basket that is so frayed, and thin at the bottom.
Any number of visa-ed Somaliland passports showing Turkish approval can be found at the snap of a finger.
Thirdly, where a vindictive undertone could be discerned in Ambassador Bekar’s remarks on Nile Academy and the Turkey government’s request submitted to Somaliland suggesting expulsion, as Somalia did, H.E. the Minister, again, pointed out to the envoy that (a) Somaliland has a process to ascertain if a crime had been committed on its soil or not, (b) the concerned institution was legally licensed to operate in Somaliland, and that (c) there were bilateral agreements signed and sealed between the Nile Academy and its line ministry that could not be breached without due cause.
This, again, was a rap on the knuckles to an Ambassador who projected the supposedly democratic country he represented as an oafish, vindictive, new elephant in the region that need be closely watched.
“We have started this process and if we find any breach of our contract with the concerned institution, we would exercise a judicial process commensurate with our constitution,” the Minister said.
Comparing the two press conferences, observers have come to the conclusion that the honorable Ambassador direly needed to enroll in a reputable academic institution to polish up his grip on foreign policy matters.
On the other side of the scale, H. E. the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Saad Ali Shirreh, effectively doused the rising tempers of Somalilanders whose stirred indignation he quelled with his adept, mature handling of the issue thus serving the young ambassador some useful pointers on international relations and foreign policy.
Time will decide, however, if, tactically, the foreign minister’s conciliatory strategy with Turkey will work.
Somalilanders, far and wide, have not concealed their ire and displeasure with Turkey and its irksome, doleful view of a Somaliland that it truly knows so little of.
‘Severe ties! Severe ties with Turkey’ is gaining popularity and momentum on the ground.