Speech by Minister of State for Europe Roth to the Bundestag on Germany’s continued participation in the European Union military mission to contribute to the training of Somali security forces (EUTM Somalia)

18.02.2016 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Mr President,
Fellow members of the German Bundestag,

The Horn of Africa has been a persistent focus of the global crisis landscape for many years. This goes particularly for crisis-stricken Somalia.

Over twenty years of civil war, humanitarian emergencies and Islamist terror have left their mark on the country. It therefore comes as little surprise that Somalia has only seldom made positive headlines in recent years.

In view of current political developments, the international community is currently approaching Somalia with cautious optimism once more.

After a difficult but ultimately successful process, the Somali cabinet agreed on 27 January to a model for national elections that are to be held this very same year. The year 2016 therefore has the potential to be a turning point in the country’s development.

The most recent developments underscore the Somali Government’s willingness to reassume responsibility for the country’s political destiny. Our shared goal is for Somalia to stand on its own two feet once again in the medium term – politically, economically and militarily.

In all honesty, though, the election process agreed on is at odds with the prevailing view of democracy in Europe.

As a “Somali model”, however, it will take account of the realities of Somalia’s society, political culture and traditions. We will accompany the implementation process with the aim of achieving as much transparency and democracy as possible.

Fellow members of this House,

A difficult path of small steps towards rebuilding functioning state structures was started out on with the transitional constitution agreed in 2012. The Somali people is going down this path under unimaginably difficult conditions. The Islamist terror militia Al‑Shabaab is committing terrorist attacks across the country. In addition to this, droughts and famines bring Somalia to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe time and again.

Thanks to the concerted efforts of Somalis and the international community, Somalia is now no longer considered to be a failed state, however. But it is still a fragile state. And there is a long and difficult path to tread before we can actually speak of “good governance”. Somalia is reliant on our help not only for the first few kilometres of this path, but for the duration of its journey.

Our stabilisation policy continues to seek to establish a measure of effective governance with a view to responding to the population’s basic needs. In addition to safeguarding access to water, food, energy and a functioning healthcare system, the Somali state must also ensure that the most basic human need – peace, stability and security – is met.

Our military commitment within the framework of the EU training mission EUTM is embedded within a comprehensive approach. We have, in addition, launched a member of bilateral projects that are strengthening civil society and state structures and promoting democracy. Germany’s renewed efforts in the area of development cooperation in Somalia will play an even greater role in the future.

Fellow members of this House,

We should not forget that the Somali army is being built from the ground up. At the same time, Somali troops are already standing shoulder to shoulder with AMISOM in the fight against the Al‑Shabaab terrorist militias.

Cooperation in the security sector in a country that is in the grip of an armed conflict is a highly sensitive and difficult task.

Important progress has been made in the area of building up the Somali security forces in recent years, however. The international community and the Somali Government have agreed to planning principles and goals for building up the army and police.

The structures of the Somalia Pact have led to considerably greater transparency and improved channels of communication. There is a credible political dialogue between the Somali Government, the United Nations and international donors on the issue of who does what.

The EUTM Somalia mission has become established as an important and valued partner. The EU mission has already achieved a great deal despite the ongoing difficult climate.

Around 5,000 Somali soldiers have been trained since 2010 – first in Uganda and, since 2014, now also on Somali soil in Mogadishu.

Together with our EU partners and the High Representative, we agree that this commitment should be continued beyond the period of the EU mandate, which is due to expire in December 2016. And we are doing this in full awareness of the unchanged difficult general conditions.

This is, after all, why we are committed to achieving improvements, such as ensuring that the mission, working closely with AMISOM, will focus even more intensely on providing support for building up the administrative and leadership structures of the Somali armed forces. The EU has the potential to make a genuine difference here within the framework of the Common Security and Defence Policy.

We intend to consolidate initial successes in the efforts to shore up the Somali armed forces and ensure that Somalia takes sole responsibility for its military in the long term.

We are aware of the current, in some areas considerable structural shortcomings of the Somali armed forces. There is a lack of organisational basis, process knowledge of administrative procedures and supply of command and control assets.

Everyday experience also shows us that military elites are still comparatively unresponsive to the benefits of a functioning armed forces organisation that is accountable to the civilian political leadership.

Training should focus on these deficits in particular in the future. EUTM Somalia is undertaking important and essential pioneering work in this area. Particularly the younger generation of the soldiers being trained as part of the EU mission gives us hope.

A motivated, well‑trained new generation of the Somali military, one which is conversant with the principles of international humanitarian law, is coming to the fore.

With the decision by the Bundestag to continue the participation of German servicemen and women in the EU‑led advisory and training mission EUTM Somalia, Germany is sending a strong signal of its continued support for Somalia’s nation-building efforts. On behalf of the Federal Government, fellow members of this House, I ask you for your active support in this venture.

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