Speech. 35 Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (S)
Mr President! Markus Wiechel has asked me:
Why has not Sweden as the first country in the world recognized Somaliland as an independent nation and demonstrated their support for their amazing successes?
What is required for the government to take the step of recognizing the nation as an independent nation in the future?
What does the Swedish government specifically do to support Somaliland and their people to achieve further success?
Sweden has long been supporting the peace and state-building process in Somalia. For continued success in Somalia’s development, the Government considers that national reconciliation is a decisive factor. Through this assistance, Swedish assistance is provided for support for several dialogue and mediation efforts in Somalia. This includes support for dialogue between the federal government and Somaliland.
The Swedish government is of the opinion that recognition of Somaliland as an independent state would not benefit the continued peace process in Somalia. It could also adversely affect development in the region. The government therefore sees no reason to reconsider its attitude on this issue. It can also be noted that no other country recognized Somaliland as an independent state.
As far as Markus Wiechel’s final question is concerned, Sweden can provide support to a number of major nationwide, donor-friendly funds and programs that also come to Somaliland. In addition, Sweden has supported the democratic development of Somaliland through support for several of the elections carried out in Somaliland, as well as the preparations for the elections that were due in 2015.
Speech. 36 Markus Wiechel (SD)
Mr President! I would like to start by thanking the Foreign Minister for the answer.
For a long time, Sweden has assumed three stated criteria that must be met in order to recognize an independent country: There should be a people, there should be a territory and there should be a government that can exercise control over the territory. Somaliland fulfills all of these three criteria – and many in addition to them.
At the same time, the government has made it clear that it intends to be a humanitarian example. It is up to the order and reason and wishes to promote democracy, gender equality and other human rights. Here too, I think Somaliland is worthy of the fact that the international community, perhaps with Sweden in the lead, actually acknowledges the successes the country has done and the independence it actually has.
Somaliland has free democratic elections and functioning institutions. Free schooling is offered for all children and young people. You have your own institutions and diplomatic relations, ministers and parliamentarians, and you have your own president. One has its own currency, its own flag, its own passport, its own national anthem and its own capital. The list can be done much longer.
Mr President! One might ask why I, or someone else, put so much focus on a question like this one. It’s basically about morality, and it does not end there. Somaliland has not gained its freedom through separatism, violence or in any way by violating international regulations. It was rather the chaos in Somalia that left this region without government, and then Somali people chose to take control of their own hands. There is also no historical or demographic link that supports the thesis that this should belong to the rest of what we call Somalia today – which, unlike Somaliland, was previously an Italian and not a British colony.
Mr President! It is also important for recognition, since the world in one way or another actually fits together. By supporting Somali people, we not only promote development throughout Somalia, as the Somali people themselves want, but also developments here in Sweden and in Europe. Through recognition, we can develop trade and stability, act directly with the Somali government and show the world that it pays for peace. It pays to achieve all the achievements that Somaliland has achieved with democracy and schooling.
We can help them to greater success, which can also spread to other parts of the region. Against all odds, Somaliland has created a peaceful Western-style democracy in one of the world’s most violent regions. The fact that Somaliland is also a Muslim functioning democracy is worth remembering. It should be recognized as an example for many of the countries that are in or have found themselves in a similar situation and fought for more success.
Last but not least: Sweden has in recent years recognized states on much more doubtful grounds than has been said by the Foreign Minister. The government’s position basically indicates an inconsistent action that is all the more sad at a time when we have the chance to influence other countries within the United Nations.
I do not want to believe there are other reasons for acknowledging Palestine, for example, but the action unfortunately indicates that this is the case.
Speech. 37 Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (S)
Mr President! It is true that the development in Somaliland has historically been more successful than the development in Somalia. Somaliland has not been affected by civil war, and the state institutions have therefore not been subjected to the same collapse as in most of the southern parts of Somalia. As a result, Somaliland has formed, and still largely represents, a positive example for the rest of Somalia.
There are both pros and cons of joining a larger federation. Doing so can have both economic and security benefits. The hope is that the positive development in Somalia in the long term may also benefit Somaliland’s development, but this presupposes that Somaliland does not stand outside the process. It can, of course, also lead to the fact that there are battles about boundaries and anything else that may come from it.
In this context, it is positive that representatives of clans with primary affiliation in Somaliland participated in the Somali election and have chosen Somaliland’s representatives to the federal government and to parliament.
We judge by the government that recognition of Somaliland would not benefit the Somali peace process, and we see no need to reconsider our attitude to the matter. I have received this question and interpellations on this topic before.
Additionally, Somaliland may not have been recognized by any other European state, nor by the African Union or its members. It is largely a non-issue that is not really driven properly, and perhaps there is a development towards wanting to become an independent state to begin. But at the moment, we mean that it is important to look at all of Somalia and recognize the successes of Somaliland, but there is no such movement and there is no other country that has recognized Somaliland.
Speech. 38 Markus Wiechel (SD)
Mr President! Is it really strange that the African Union, mostly composed of dictatorships, has not recognized Somaliland and the development they have managed to achieve? Is it really strange that other countries who have not succeeded in the same way do not want to admit this success?
Then I can ask myself: What does the Swedish government believe that the people in Somaliland can not decide if it is better that they are independent or not? Should we continue with the policy that prevailed, where other countries should decide on their boundaries? This is a clan-based society. It is a society that consists of many different groups, and now the Somali people have the desire to draw the map of their country themselves. Indeed, I do not see how this can make it difficult for the development of peace in this region.
It is also worth mentioning that the union between Somalia and Somaliland in 1960 was never actually signed by the parliaments of the two countries, which was a prerequisite for the validity of the agreement. De facto has thus deprived the Somali people of their own country.
Speech. 39 Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (S)
Mr President! The way Somalia’s federal map will eventually look is best determined by the Somalis themselves. For continued success in Somalia’s development requires a constructive partnership within and between Somalia’s different regions. After many years of civil war there are at least many local conflicts and dispute resolutions, and they can only be solved through dialogue and reconciliation.
We think from the Swedish government that Somaliland’s claim to self-government is best dealt with in such a process and under Somali leadership.
Speech. 40 Markus Wiechel (SD)
Mr President! Yes, Somaliland will decide its future, and that’s a bit what they’re trying to do now. They have long worked as a country and have de facto independence. They have succeeded in this through dialogue and reconciliation, just as the Foreign Minister wants them to do. Nevertheless, they do not get any support. I do not see what else they can do, because they have played right so far, so to speak. There is no violence, no separatist abrasions and nothing that in any way contradicts what the Foreign Minister actually says.
In fact, I still do not really understand why we can not only give them the right to their own country, which they de facto already control.
Speech. 41 Foreign Minister Margot Wallström (S)
Mr President! We think that national reconciliation is a crucial factor in continuing to see successful development in Somalia. We know that it is a priority also for the UN’s new Secretary-General. Should people from outside the world come up with views on how state-building and reconciliation should take place in Somalia, there is a risk that it will only make it difficult.
We provide Swedish support for the peace and state-building process in Somalia. We provide political support and development cooperation, and we are one of the largest donors. We think it’s the right way forward. Eventually, this may be a question, but it is definitely not today. We do not want to do anything that interferes with the political process that we can see and which is positive in Somalia, but we also do not mind holding Somaliland’s successes. They can be an important example. But it is not above all to mark state-building in the way that best contributes to the national reconciliation needed today. They are needed as a good example.
The discussion was hereby concluded.