Following a meeting the Presidents of the Republic of Somaliland and Ethiopia’s Somali State, their Excellencies Musa Bihi Abdi and Mustafa Muhumad Omar ‘Cagjar’, had at the border town of Wajaale, Friday, the two sides agreed to ease relations and set up technical committees to work out the details.
According to the Minister of Information of the Somali State, Guled Aw Ali Kahin, who had spoken with the BBC Somali Services’s Abdinassir Hikam, upon the delegation’s return to Jigjiga, the two sides agreed to set up a committee on economy and trade, one on security matters and another on immigration and travel issues.
That both sides invest on crossing points to improve existing infrastructures was raised, too.
The two Presidents, also, agreed to accelerate previously signed MOUs between the Republic of Somaliland and Ethiopia both at State and federal levels.
According to Minister Kahin, both sides will enormously benefit from a thaw between the two sides. Somaliland can provide land-locked Ethiopia an access to the sea, ports, fisheries and marine products, salt and much more where, the Somali State and Ethiopia can sell it agro-products, livestock for export, revenue on the passage of Gas and oil pipes, and the like.
“Here is Guled, yonder is his brother. There are brothers on both sides of the border. That is how indispensable cordial relations between the Somaliland Republic and the Somali State are to us,” he told a recalcitrant reporter who was repeatedly trying to hammer home his bias against Somaliland.
“There are nine state autonomous state governments in Ethiopia. Each of these has a leeway to decide for itself with whom and at where it shares a mutual interest,” he said responding to a loaded question the reporter put to him alluding to recent meetings between Somalia’s Farmajo and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
Relations between Somaliland and the Somali State sored somewhat since the administration changed hands on both sides. The Somaliland government and its public were particularly angered by recent comments the Somali State President, Cagjar, made on public alluding to elements not happy with the change of administration of the State concocting terror plots against them from places such as ‘Somaliland, Puntland and Jubbaland’.
Minister Guled Kahin, speaking on behalf of President Cagjar, offered apologies for the allusion to terror plots being hatched in Somaliland to harm the Somali State which President Cagjar made at the very end of November.
“We offer our apologies for those comments if they had hurt your feelings and impacted on our relations. They were not meant to,” he said.
At the Friday meeting, President Mustafa Cagjar, stated the aim behind the visit “this is a meeting between relatives and neighbors..a longing to touch base with one another,” he said.
Alluding to the reference he made earlier of Somaliland, intimating that it was one of several terrorist nests, Mr. Cagjar reversed that saying ‘Somaliland, of course, was not among those he suspected. The whole world knows that”, he said, completely retracting his previous, damaging words. The President’s off-the-cuff remarks so appalled Somaliland that many thought it was another manifestation of a concerted ‘Somaliweyn’ (Greater Somalia) offensive against Somaliland – people, land, and case.
“Wajaale is a symbol of that brotherhood. It straddles a border that divides two countries but its people are one and not divided,” he added.
“Today, I hope,” President Musa Bihi stated, “will be a day to remember, a day that is of cherished significance to all Somali-speakers wherever they are as it marks another page of cooperation between brothers”.
The two presidents were accompanied by a number of ministers, other top-level government officials, business people and prominent members of society on both sides.
Yesterday’s event did not thrill many in Somaliland as it was not preceded by an apology from President Cagjar but, nonetheless, many made a complete turnabout won over by how it got underway, the spirit and camaraderie shown, the atmosphere at both venues of the luncheon and the official talks, and, in general, the promise the event, as a whole, ushered.