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European Union to work more closely with Somalia partners

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) Ambassador and Special Envoy to Somalia Michele Cervone d’Urso said that the Europe’s economic and political bloc will work closely with the new Somali authorities including the civil society, according to a statement issued here on Monday.

"The Somalis have taken their destiny in their own hands and the EU will support them in doing so," d’Urso said in the statement.

"That is why we will work closely with the new Somali authorities but also with Somali civil society that plays a crucial role in the rebuilding of the Somali Nation," the statement said.

Somalia has formed an inclusive and democratic government that has inspired the international community to partake in the reconstruction of the fragile horn of African state.

But analysts says despite recent advances in Somalia’s peace and national reconciliation process, after decades of warfare, the country is still dealing with the impact of the Al-Shabaab militant group, which has been pushed out of Mogadishu but still controls a few areas, primarily in south-central regions.

The top diplomat for the Horn of Africa who assumed his duties on Sept. 21 after being appointed to the new position confirmed to the Somali authorities that he will open a new chapter in the relations between Somalia and the EU, aiming at a true and balanced partnership.

The EU special envoy said the decision has been made to open up future EU calls for proposals to Somali NGO’s applying as "partners".

"Somali NGO’s will indeed, from now on, be able to apply for EU grants if they do so in partnership with international NGOs.

This possibility did not exist in the past when several limitations existed," he said.

D’Urso said the new approach is considered as a first important step in changing attitude of the EU towards Somali NGOs.

"Taking into account that the situation in Somalia is changing on a daily basis, the EU will re-evaluate this approach in the near future to see if other options of cooperation could be explored," he added.

During his first visit to Somalia on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23, d’Urso assured his Somali partners he comes with a good knowledge of the regional challenges and that he agrees on the need to provide immediate support the soon to be formed government.

He emphasised the need for more Somali ownership in the Somali relations with the EU, but also with the regional partners and the international community as a whole.

The EU special envoy also met representatives of civil society in Somaliland and Puntland where he called for increased political space for women and respect of human rights, including the rights of refugees, as well as more support for interregional grassroots initiatives aiming at reconciliation.


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