Speech by Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth to the German Bundestag on the continued participation of armed German troops in the European Union military mission to contribute to the training of Somali security forces (EUTM Somalia)
One of the long-running problems in the global landscape of crises is the situation in the Horn of Africa – above all in Somalia which has been racked by civil war and famine for years.
The EU has a long-standing commitment to assisting the region and draws on the entire range of its foreign policy instruments in doing so. The Horn of Africa is thus a good example of the EU’s comprehensive approach to making the world a slightly more peaceful and stable place. We combine security, development cooperation, humanitarian assistance and diplomacy.
So let’s not confine our debate today to security policy. There are other fields, too, that we should take into account in the context of our multi-faceted engagement in and for Africa.
Since 2008, the EU has invested over a billion euros in projects with the aim of fostering political and economic stability in Somalia. I’m convinced that the means that we are now investing in a targeted manner in peace and stability in Somalia will ultimately produce manifold results. For all of these projects aim to ensure that crises and conflicts in Somalia don’t flare up again and escalate in the first place.
But what exactly are we doing in Somalia?
- In the field of rebuilding the state and administration we’re supporting the development of the rule of law and democratic structures and we’re bolstering the process of reconciliation between different population groups.
- We’re supporting the country’s economic recovery by improving the conditions for agricultural production and by fostering the development of a private sector.
- Humanitarian assistance has been a special priority of the EU’s engagement since 1994: between 2011 and 2014 alone, the EU provided humanitarian assistance totalling over 240 million euros.
Despite the comprehensive engagement of the international community, however, Somalia remains a fragile state. We’re anything other than satisfied and let’s be under no illusion: the journey from failed state to good governance is no sprint but rather a long and gruelling marathon. Somalia will depend on our help, not only for the first few kilometres but right up to the finish line.
The instruments of civilian post-crisis rehabilitation and development cooperation are of paramount importance in bringing lasting stability to Somalia.
Without a minimum level of effective statehood we will be unable to provide for the basic needs of the population in terms of water and energy supply as well as healthcare. Moreover, local agriculture needs to produce sufficient food.
To this end we must equip the Somali Government to be able to take on responsibility as a state, namely to guarantee peace and security for the people of its country for itself. Somalia needs security structures which work and are self-sustaining so that civilian instruments can be effective.
Our common goal remains to ensure that the country becomes stable enough for free elections to take place in 2016.
To this end, alongside the diplomatic efforts of the EU Special Envoy to Somalia, various missions which work within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy make a significant contribution:
- Since 2008, Operation Atalanta has been protecting World Food Programme ships, thus safeguarding humanitarian and development policy assistance and successfully quelling the piracy run by criminal networks.
-Since 2012, the civilian mission EUCAP NESTOR has supported the Somali authorities in building up their own maritime security capabilities.
- And last but not least, through the training mission EUTM Somalia, since 2010 we’ve been supporting the Somali Government in building up armed forces committed to democratic oversight, the principles of international law and the protection of human rights.
Today, the Federal Government is proposing to continue Germany’s participation in these important missions.
If we compare the status quo in Somalia with the situation we were faced with at the beginning of the mission in 2010 we see considerable progress: Today, in large parts of the country the al‑Shabaab Islamist terrorist militias are on the back foot thanks to military pressure from AMISOM – the African Union Mission in Somalia – and the Somali army, the recent news of terrible attacks, above all in Mogadishu, notwithstanding.
Nevertheless, despite the difficult environment, EUTM Somalia can look back on visible successes: to date, some 4800 Somali soldiers have been trained within the framework of the EU Mission, 1200 of whom received their training in Mogadishu where it has been taking place since 2014.
The EU-led training mission is an important building block in promoting African capabilities and the continent’s assumption of responsibility for its own affairs, a key feature of the Federal Government’s Africa policy.
By continuing the participation of German servicemen and women in the EU-led consultation and training mission EUTM Somalia, Germany is sending a strong signal: We’re demonstrating solidarity and providing concrete assistance. Our military engagement is a modest but necessary aspect of an Africa strategy dedicated to promoting peace, stability and security.
On behalf of the Federal Government, colleagues, I ask you for your active support in this venture.