Somaliland is a buffer zone for Ethiopia, says Essa Kayd
HARGEISA, Somalia - The breakaway region of Somaliland insists that it is a buffer zone to the federal republic of Ethiopia, noting that the relationship between the two parties has "significantly improved" compared to the past due to commitment to changing economic fortunes in the Horn of Africa and the regional blocs.
In an interview with The Reporter, Dr. Essa Kayd, the state's Foreign Affairs representative, said the relationship between Hargeisa and Addis Ababa is "great" after hiccups in the last four years, noting that the people from either side state "values and culture" which are essential for integration.
According to him, Ethiopia, which has close ties with Mogadishu, has been offering scholarships to students from Somaliland, adding that there are a lot of Ethiopians who also work in Hargeisa, the regional administrative capital of Somaliland.
"Well, I believe there were a few hiccups between the two governments in the last four years, but that has been resolved. I think the relationship is great now. This is a country with which we share a lot of values, culture, and people," he said in the interview as he lobbied for recognition of Somaliland.
"As you know, we have people that are from either side; you find Ethiopians in Somaliland and Somalilanders in Ethiopia. Ethiopia, for example, offers a large number of scholarships to our online students right now, and there are a lot of Ethiopians who work in Hargeisa."
According to him, the two governments are working closely on matters of trade and international relations, adding that they have come up with strategies to put Al-Shabaab and other extremists at bay. He maintained that Somaliland will continue to play the role of bringing a buffer zone to Ethiopia in the fight against the militants.
"In terms of government, we have a very good relationship, and we have established official embassies in each other’s countries. We support each other, have a working relationship, and trade is also a big thing that we do with the port of Berbera, which is doing well.
"Recently, we came to talk to the Minister of Foreign Affairs [MoFA] less than a month ago, and prior to that, there were also other meetings, and we are on the same page in terms of making sure that we take care of each other and that the insurgents, elements, or terrorists do not come through here. So, we are a buffer zone for Ethiopia, " he said.
It is not clear how Somalia will treat the interview but in recent days, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has maintained that the state remains part of Somalia, adding that Mogadishu will however, not use force to determine the way they want to be governed. Somaliland declared self-independence in 1991 following the civil war during the reigns of Siad Barre.