I am pleased to welcome the distinguished guests, especially officials, diplomatic delegations, members of civil society institutions, organizations facilitating the conference, and everyone who honored us with their presence and participation including researchers, intellectuals also those who showed interest for the conference. I greet you all and I say peace and mercy of God be upon you.
I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to Global Somali Diaspora (GSD) and Yunis Emre Institute and all participants in the conference; Somalis and non-Somalis. As you all know, there is no successful endeavor in this life without a clear plan and no value for any plan without tracking progress in achieving goals. Hence, this conference aims at the following:
First: To promote the cooperation between the diaspora themselves across different continents and facilitate the exchange ideas and knowledge.
Second: Building bridges of cooperation between diaspora and Somalis living inside Somalia and East African region.
Third: To launch initiatives for the generations who were born and raised abroad responding to their needs to ensure that their interests are realized.
Fourth: the conference is a strong building block in strengthening the Turkish-Somali relations and renewing the historical ties on a base and strategy suited to the current stage and its requirements.
The East Africa Association for Research and Development “DAD” is a research and development organization that develops solutions to social, economic and political challenges in East Africa to help make communities throughout the region safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous. DAD is nonprofit, nonpartisan, and committed to the public interest.
Somali ethnicity is an essential part of the demographic fabric of East African countries. Somali people are present in four countries: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, while a substantial Somali population lives in both in Tanzania and Uganda. Besides that, the Somalis are residing in about one million and two hundred thousand kilometers, where the Somalis in the East Africa and in the diaspora are estimated 40 million people who shares almost everything in values, religion and language.
What exactly do Somalis should do?
First: living in peace and harmony with other communities in the East Africa region.
Second: active participation in the endeavors of development and stability to realize a better live for everyone in the region.
Thirdly: Somalis of the Diaspora should balance the necessity of integration into the societies to which they have moved to, and the requirements of preserving their identity in terms of their religion, culture and language.
What are the challenges and opportunities for the Somali community in Turkey?
First, there is a communications barrier since the Turkish society is not open to international languages where they speak only their mother tongue.
Second: the absence of social organizations that reaches out the families and students to give them awareness and advices and provides services such as suitable schools.
Fourth: Turkey’s proximity to smuggling routes to Europe motivates some people to immigrate illegally with all its tremendous risks.
Fifth: Despite the opportunities in Turkey but the exploitation level is under the required level.
First: the easy accessibility of visas for the citizens of the both countries
Second: the affordable life in Turkey for the Somali middle-class families
Third: there is a general positive attitude towards Somalis in Turkey.
Fourth: There is a tangible number of graduates who studied through Turkish government scholarships, these graduates are scattered in every corner in Somalia where others have remained in Tukey and launched their private entities mainly in tourism and trade sector. Together these two groups could be a catalyst for a solid relation between the two nations and societies.
In conclussion I would like to draw your attention to the fact that all these efforts we are doing now are only for the future. The Republic of Turkey shares with Somalia many values and interests in several sectors such as agricultural investment, exploitation of marine resources, trade and industry, scientific research, education and security. Based on to these facts the largest Turkish embassy in the world is located in Somalia and Erdoğan Hospital in Mogadishu is among the pioneer hospitals not only in the country but the whole region. Also, there is the largest military training base by Turkish army is in Mogadishu. Therefore, the establishment of strong and stable relations is crucial to ensure the building of a strong partnership to consolidate the pivotal endeavors that lead to the development and maintenance of the Turkish-Somali relationship.