today at a meeting in Addis Ababa with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Dr Tannock said that a stable and sovereign Somaliland would act as a powerful moderate neighboring partner to Ethiopia both economically and politically. He argued that many other major African nations, the EU and the USA, would also eventually support independence, but not until a major African Union nation makes the first move. It is also important to remind the newly independent Republic of South Sudan of its stated commitment to recognise Somaliland in exchange for the longstanding help it gave Juba in its liberation struggle from Khartoum. Historically Somaliland was very briefly independent in 1960 so it is legally a case of re-recognition rather than recognition after Hargeisa, much to its subsequent regret, joined the former Italian Somalia in the south for an unhappy marriage which lasted until 1991.
Somaliland is a moderate Islamic nation with a small cohesive population and which has strong economic prospects with unexplored possible significant oil and gas resources and thorium deposits essential for the nuclear power industry. Its Soviet built deepwater port at Berbera could make it a complimentary trading ally to landlocked Ethiopia. Its functioning democracy would also help bolster the forces of moderation and stability in the Horn of Africa and countenance the Islamist insurgents in Somalia – Al.Shabab.
Speaking after the meeting, Dr Tannock said:
“Somaliland is a relatively peaceful, stable and economically growing polity. It is a world away from the failed state of Somalia where the TFG’s remit barely reaches beyond Mogadishu and which still faces the brutality of the Al-Shabab insurgency and the serious challenge of piracy.
“Western governments rightly do not yet feel empowered to declare Somaliland a sovereign nation without a clear declaration from a leading African nation. As the major force for stability, security and growth in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has the ability to give a lead on re-recognising Somaliland independence, and I strongly believe that many other AU nations, and the EU and USA, would follow suit.
“Somaliland can be a partner for peace and prosperity to the Ethiopian people in an unsettled region. I hope that Prime Minister Zenawi will seriously consider taking the first step towards granting re-recognition of its sovereignty and independence. Somaliland is already effectively a functioning country and we owe it now the right to independent statehood.”
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