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Somaliland rejects Turkish naval operations amid Ethiopia maritime deal talks

Monday May 6, 2024

Dr. Essa Abdirahman Mohamoud Kayd, Somaliland's Minister of Foreign Affairs

Hargeisa (HOL) — The government of Somaliland has unequivocally stated that Turkish naval operations are not permitted off its coast, a firm response following the defence and maritime agreement between Turkey and Somalia. 

In an interview with BBC Somali, Somaliland's Foreign Minister, Dr. Essa Kayd Mohamud, articulated the self-governance of Somaliland's waters, starkly distinguishing it from Somalia's jurisdiction. "We have informed Turkey that they cannot access Somaliland's shores," Mohamud stated, affirming autonomous control over its maritime boundaries. Further emphasizing Somaliland's position, Mohamud remarked on social media, "The MoU with Ethiopia is a positive step forward, and concerns about its implications are likely unfounded. This agreement will be mutually beneficial and is expected to be implemented smoothly."

The foreign minister also highlighted an impending agreement with Ethiopia involving the lease of 20 kilometres of Somaliland's coastline to Ethiopia. The deal anticipates economic benefits and, potentially, a step towards international recognition of the breakaway republic. However, despite these assurances, recent clarifications from Ethiopian officials indicate no promise to recognize Somaliland, adhering instead to the territorial integrity of Somalia as per international law.

Simultaneously, Somalia has fortified its naval capabilities through a newly ratified agreement with Turkey, which, among other provisions, allows for the building, training, and equipping of the Somali navy. The move is part of a broader "Defense and Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement" endorsed overwhelmingly by Somalia’s legislative bodies, aimed at enhancing national security along Africa's longest coastline and addressing regional maritime threats. Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has articulated that the pact aims to counter threats like piracy and illegal fishing rather than provoke regional disputes.

The Turkey-Somalia accord has also facilitated an agreement on offshore oil drilling, set to commence in 2025, further intertwining Turkish interests with Somali maritime resources. 


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