Secretary-General's remarks at press conference following Istanbul Conference on Somalia
Istanbul, Turkey, 22 May 2010SG: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the media.
Let me start by thanking the Government of Turkey, and Foreign Minister Davutoglu, our host and co-covener of this conference, and President Sheikh Sharif of Somalia.
This has been an important and productive day at a crucial time for Somalia.
The participants have agreed and issued a declaration – the Istanbul Declaration – that summarizes our work and sets out some clear commitments as we seek to improve the lives of millions of Somalis.
I have spoken during the course of the day to many leaders and ministers how we can implement the agreement we made today.
Comýng out of these dýscussýons, I feel a strong sense of purpose and urgency. Our two-fold message today is consistent and clear.
First, despite the risks or setbacks, the United Nations and the international community at large will not stand by and watch Somalia struggle alone.
Second, if we do not tackle the basic causes onshore we will never be able to stop piracy offshore.
Our collective aim is to defeat the cycle of lawlessness, violence and despair in Somalia and to build in its place a peaceful and prosperous future for the country and the region.
Dire conditions on land open the way for a surge in piracy at sea.
The dire conditions onshore have made it difficult for humanitarian agencies to carry out their vital work. I am enormously proud of and grateful to many humanitarian workers who have been working despite very difficult and even dangerous conditions.
Many decisions have been taken in the past on Somalia, and we have been working on them, and we recommit to them today in the Declaration. It is now time to redouble our efforts to ensure the Transitional Federal Government and the international community work together to implement those commitments.
Let me set out the main points from the Declaration, although the Foreign Minister already did.
It is important that the Djibouti Peace Process and the transition are kept on track. We welcome the progress the Transitional Federal Government has made. We also emphasize the urgent need for the Transitional Federal Government to address its considerable political and security challenges.
We need to continue the good work training Somali security forces. But we need to do more to pay them after that training. Finding the funding now is a down payment for a stronger Somalia tomorrow.
We also commend the contribution of AMISOM and we salute the countries that provide troops again despite very difficult and dangerous circumstances. The countries Burundi, Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zambia. And we thank the international community for its financial support to AMISOM.
The Declaration expresses its grave concern over the increase in acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea against vessels off the coast of Somalia. The Declaration welcomes the establishment of the International Trust Fund to defray costs associated with prosecuting suspected pirates.
Reconstruction is a vital component of the Declaration and a key way to break the cycle of despair. We welcome the discussion among the business community, not least Somali business leaders, and encourage a focus on six priority areas – telecommunications; transport infrastructure; livestock exports; fisheries; banking and remittances and; alternative energy.
Overcoming all these hardships and challenges will require a determined, long-term collective efforts of the international community.
We at the United Nations are ready to strengthen those efforts, with the international community, to help the people and government of Somalia.
Off-the-Cuff on 22 May 2010