Wednesday May 8, 2013
The Norwegian ruling governments led by Prime Minister Stoltenberg and the Norwegian Stortinget (Parliament) have today received letters issued by the East African Energy Forum (EAEF) warning them to stay clear of involvement in Somalia’s waters.
Attempt to Re-Instate the 2009 MOU between Somalia and Kenya
The EAEF is referring to Norway’s deep involvement in attempting to influence Somalia to concede sovereignty over its southern waters to Kenya. The group says Norway was a chief architect of the disastrous 2009 MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the then TFG and Kenyan Governments. The MOU was a slippery document that combined two seperate concepts and took advantage of the then ensuing deadline of 2009 of a weak and ill advised TFG which would have signed off over to Kenya approximately 116,000 square kilometers of Somali southern waters, an area larger than the size of Malawi.
“It is extremely regrettable that a supposed neutral actor in East Africa such as Norway, would act so recklessly against the Somali national interest in favor of a quick profit for its national oil company.”
says Abdillahi Mohamud, head of the EAEF.
“The Somali public have begun educating themselves on the boundaries of their territorial sovereignty, the insistence of the Norwegian government to influence Somalia to accept the 2009 MOU even to this day, which was widely rejected by the Somali Parliament and its people, has caused Norway’s image to suffer an insurmountable damage”
Somalia’s Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ)
The group is also countering Norway’s insistence that Somalia must declare its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) urgently in order to retain its sovereignty over its waters.
“Norway’s attempt to rush Somalia into declaring it’s EEZ is unwarranted and based on its political aims rather than international law and standards. Other countries have historically declared an EEZ when they felt it was in their national interest and no country has the right to pressure Somalia. In fact there are other countries that have ratified UNCLOS and not declared an EEZ until this day.” says Feysal Mayow, Director of the group’s technical team tasked with monitoring infringement of Somali waters.
“The EAEF does not foresee any deadline for Somalia to declare its EEZ, rather it is a detriment and against our national interest to declare our EEZ without having functioning naval forces or the ability to monitor our waters” Mayow adds.
He continues to note that if Somalia declares its EEZ without the capacity to monitor it, certain obligations will be forced upon it such as granting landlocked Ethiopia access to Somali waters, as well as foreign commercial fishing rights to quotas not met by the Somali fishing industry.
“Our decimated fishing industry can not sustain the optimum utilization of our fisheries as demanded by UNCLOS, this means as soon as Somalia declares its EEZ, it gives free reign for foreign fishing fleets to deplete the surplus allowable catch in Somali waters un-monitored and un-patrolled. We cannot build a vibrant fishing industry when our local fishermen will be competing with huge foreign trawlers”
EU’s Rapidly Declining Oil and Gas Reserves
He suggests Norway and other EU states rapidly declining offshore reserves at home have sparked their interest in East African waters. With Norway as the world’s leader in offshore oil and gas exploration, it is little surprise the country is eyeing Somalia’s untapped offshore reserves.
The group says it is monitoring all attempts to take advantage of Somalia’s current situation and undermine it’s territorial waters and that it will continue to take further action.
“It is a pity that a country which prides itself on its humanitarian reputation, has chosen to exploit Somalia’s current unstable situation to benefit from. This is a massive political miscalculation by the Norwegian government, Somalis are vigilant of their waters and it would have been more wise for Norway to take a neutral position.” says Abdillahi Mohamud.
East African Energy Forum