Kenyan foreign minister lauds Turkey's diligent role in Somalia

Kenyan foreign minister lauds Turkey's diligent role in Somalia

Kenya's foreign minister, while in İstanbul for a Turkey-Africa summit, lauded Turkey's outpouring of support for and leadership in drought-afflicted Somalia on Thursday, Today's Zaman reported.

Foreign Affairs Minister and presidential candidate Moses Wetangula told Today's Zaman in an exclusive interview, "Turkey has come to Somalia with commitment, enthusiasm and great capacity."

Turkey, which has sent hundreds of millions of Turkish lira in aid to the country in fundraising campaigns since the start of Ramadan, has been called a leader among the international community in Somalia.

Wetangula, saying he was "thrilled" to see Turkey's outpouring of humanitarian aid, stressed that such assistance "can go a long way" in a country struggling with both a natural disaster and rife with internal conflict.

"We were quite impressed to see Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] visit [Somali capital] Mogadishu with his family earlier this year," Wetangula said. After Erdogan's visit, many world leaders as well as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon followed suit and visited the region, he added.

Kenya, which hosts hundreds of thousands of refugees from Somalia, has and will continue to support its northeast neighbor, Wetangula said. "We will never give up on Somalia," he assured.

But Wetangula also emphasized that Somalia, embroiled in violence and conflict, must deal with the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab before real progress can be made.

"Let's remember Somalia is a failed state. They fight for the sake of fighting. It is the only country in Africa with a homogenous population, one language, one religion, virtually one [in] everything," he said.

"That is why we are fighting al-Shabaab," Wetangula said of Kenya's military intervention in Somalia to pursue the militants. The Kenyan government first dispatched troops to neighboring Somalia in October.

"By liberating Somalia from al-Shabaab, the country will then be able to rid itself of its problems and work towards [establishing] law and order," he said. "So far so good."

Wetangula said he knows the security threats in Somalia from personal experience.

The foreign minister said he nearly lost his life in Somalia last October when a bomb went off on the road he was traveling, killing 11 people. "That is the Somalia we are dealing with," he said.

While Wetangula said Kenya will continue to stand beside the Somali people, he added, "Pressure on us must be transferred to Somalia." Kenya's Dadaab camp is currently home to more than 650,000 Somali refugees.

Turkey, a 'strategic partner in Africa'

In light of Friday's Africa summit in İstanbul, Wetangula said the continent attaches great importance to Turkey's educational, economic and diplomatic activities in the region. "Africa values Turkey as a strategic partner," he said.

Kenya and Africa hold up Turkey, with its "democratic achievements and liberal economy," as an example to follow. "We have lessons to learn from Turkey, which was once called the sick man of Europe and now boasts the fastest growing economy," he stressed.

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