Thursday, June 26, 2003

Interview with Somaliland Foreign Minister Edna Adan Ismail
ADDIS ABABA, 24 June 2003 (IRIN) - Edna Adan Ismail is the foreign minister of the self-declared republic of Somaliland which is seeking international recognition as a separate independent state. On an official visit to Ethiopia - 12 days into her new job after being appointed Somaliland's first female minister - she tells IRIN about the quest for recognition.

QUESTION: Is Ethiopia ready to recognise Somaliland following your talks with the foreign minister Seyoum Mesfin?

ANSWER: Recognition is something that will take its natural course, but what we talked about were the bilateral relations of the two countries, the trade relations, and the common concern about security in the region. We discussed food aid coming in from the European Union through the port of Berbera, flowing freely without being looted, without military escort across Somaliland.

Q: But as your most important ally did he say in a year’s time we will recognise Somaliland?

A: That he did not say, but it has been said before that Ethiopia will not be the first to recognise us. But they certainly will not be the third.

Q: Who is going to be the first?

A: We think the smartest country will, because recognition of Somaliland is something that is bound to happen. The independence of Somaliland, in the fifties, came about as a result of mutual agreement and treaties, with pomp and pageantry, with signatures of documents. At that time when Somaliland gained its independence from Britain, 34 nations recognised Somaliland including the Security Council members of that time. We have never severed relations with any of those
countries so technically we are still recognised by 34 countries of the world. The problem now is our former partners, our Somali brothers, are in such disarray, such confusion that there is no way we can part like we did with Britain. Somaliland is not self-declared unless somebody is brave enough to tell me Britain does not exist. MORE

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