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Turkey’s Somalia policies discussed at London panel

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For President Erdogan, Somalia is an issue related to solidarity among Muslims, former Turkish Ambassador to Mogadishu says.

Turkey’s foreign policy towards Somalia was discussed Friday at a panel in London.

The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London, organized the “Turkey’s Foreign Politics in Somalia” conference. Turkey’s former Mogadishu Ambassador, Dr. Kani Torun, said that if “one takes risk, people appreciate it.”

“Our Mogadishu embassy was attacked and a security member was killed, we therefore took the risk. Somali people understood and appreciated this,” he said.

Torun said that this was something that came from their hearts.

“The Somali issue really touches President Erdogan,” Torun said, adding that for the Turkish President, “Somalia is an issue related to the solidarity among Muslims”

Alongside Torun, Muslim Charities Forum’s chairman Abdurahman Sharif, and Jason Mosley form the Chatham House think-tank also participated in the conference.

Turkey’s engagement in Somalia accelerated following the visit of then-Prime Minister Erdogan in August 2011, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said. This visit was followed by a nationwide campaign collecting around $300-million worth of donations for war-torn Somalia.

The ministry says that since 2011, the Turkish public, private and civil society sectors have begun to engage widely with Somalia.

Turkish interests in Somalia have been repeatedly targeted by terror attacks by Al-Shabab.

The Turkish embassy in Somalia was attacked by terrorist groups in July 2013, killing a Turkish serviceman.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, during his last visit in Somalia in January 2015, vowed not to give up in the face of terrorist groups in war-torn Somalia.

“We will fulfill our humane, conscientious, Islamic duties,” Erdogan said, during a joint press conference with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Erdogan thanked Turkish nationals serving and working in Somalia despite the threats.

Resource: World Bulletin, March 21, 2015

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