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Amb. Stephen M. Schwartz to Somaliland: pursue a negotiated agreement with Somalia, for recognition

Washington (SD) – Former US Ambassador to Somalia Stephen M. Schwartz, in a recent interview talked about the path Somaliland can take to gain full recognition from the international community.

Stephen M. Schwartz, in a lengthy and in-depth interview with the Somaliland Chronicle, said that Somaliland has done great work in the last 30 years, which needs to be doubled.

“Somaliland has done a tremendous job creating, financing, and sustaining the full array of government functions. As a result, anyone wanting to do business with Somaliland must deal with its authorities and jurisdiction. During my tenure, the embassy staff and I worked well with Somaliland officials on a range of issues. We dealt with the officials and institutions that had effective authority and control over the situations we were working on. I recall one important issue involving assisting American citizens in Somaliland in which a number of Somaliland officials provided critical assistance.” He told the Somaliland Chronicle regarding his interactions during his tenure.

Adding “The question of Somaliland’s sovereignty being recognized internationally is obviously a top priority for Somaliland officials and has been for 30 years. My view, which I have shared with senior Somaliland officials, is that the best way to pursue their goal is through a negotiated agreement with the Somalia government. All new states that have attained a seat in the United Nations – the ultimate determination of international recognition – have obtained their sovereignty with the consent of the former state to which it belonged. Some recent examples are Ethiopia consented to Eritrea’s independence, Sudan consented to South Sudan’s independence, Indonesia consented to Timor Leste’s independence, and Serbia consented to Montenegro’s independence. By contrast, Serbia has not consented to Kosovo’s declaration of independence and despite being recognized by about 100 countries, Kosovo is not seated in the United Nations and struggles to achieve full independence. Whether negotiations with authorities in Mogadishu leads to independence or some form of association is entirely up to the negotiators. What should not occur is that Mogadishu prolong a resolution of Somaliland’s status by refusing to enter undertake serious negotiations.”

When asked what advise he would give Somaliland in achieving its goals, the American diplomat replied “I think the best thing Somaliland can do to engage with the world is to continue to improve its internal situation. Building a state with security and the rule of law, a strong and growing economy, a healthy well-educated population, and productive physical infrastructure would be a huge service to the people of Somaliland and a worthy end in itself. It would also attract increasing attention from people, businesses, and governments outside. Somaliland has very capable representation in the United States. This could be boosted by occasional high-level visits by leaders from both governments.”

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