Dr. Roberto RIDOLFI (L), Col. Elul Gonzalez (c) and Colonel Michael Beary at the handover ceremony at the EUTM base in Kampala
General Wamala - Commander of Land Forces in the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF)
Colonel Ricardo Elul - EUTM Somalia Mission Commander
Colonel Michael Beary – Incoming EUTM Somalia Mission Commander
Ambassadors and other Members of the Diplomatic Community
All Protocol Observed
May I first and foremost take this opportunity to say what a pleasure it has been working with Colonel Ricardo Elul. It is no overstatement to declare that you have performed brilliantly in heading up the EUTM. Colonel, thank you for your hard work which has brought orderly command and success to the EUTM. As I say good-bye "Adios" to you, I wish you well in your next position in Columbia.
At the same time, may I say how happy I am to greet today Colonel Michael Beary: Fáilte go Uganda! / Welcome to Uganda!
Two weeks ago famine was officially declared in two regions of southern Somalia – the first time a major famine has been announced since the famine in the Somali region of Ethiopia in 2000. This declaration of famine confirms that the Horn of Africa emergency is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world now.
Across Somalia, more than 3.7 million people – more than half the entire population – are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. While this famine has been caused by a severe drought – it has also very much occurred because Somalia is a failed state. Furthermore, the violence and insecurity in Somalia has spread beyond its borders through piracy, arms deals, human trafficking, and terrorism. The dreadful terrorist attacks here in Kampala in July last year – which claimed so many innocent lives - are testament to that.
It is for all these reasons that your mission in training Somalis to return to their country and oppose terrorism and help build security for the Somali people is so important. I would like to pay special tribute to H.E. President Yoweri Museveni and other leaders in the region for their political commitment to restoring peace and stability in Somalia. Uganda, along with Burundi, is the principal contributor to AMISOM whose force is also commanded by a Ugandan general. AMISOM peacekeepers risk their lives on a daily basis in making an important contribution towards stability in Somalia.
Since March 2007, the Uganda People's Defence Force UPDF and later their counterparts from Burundi have paid the ultimate price in the gallant quest to pacify Somali. I wish to take occasion to salute the Government of Uganda, specifically the UPDF and the government and forces of Burundi – and in turn request all you present today to join me in observing a minute's silence - in tribute to this human sacrifice.
Without peace and security, growth and sustainable development are not possible, neither in Somalia nor in the entire Eastern Africa region.
On 25 January 2010, the Council agreed to set up a military mission to contribute to training of Somali security forces. The training of Somali security forces started in May 2010.
On 26 April 2010, the Council reiterated the European Union strong commitment to responding to the priority needs of the Somali people and stabilising Somalia. As part of its comprehensive approach to the situation in Somalia, the EU supports the implementation of the Djibouti Agreement.
The EU and its member states are supporting the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) to begin rebuilding security and creating an environment in which the gains of peace can be realised. Your work in this regards is essential.
I applaud the success so far of the EUTM. The first contingent (cohort 3) has been reintegrated successfully after receiving an additional training by AMISOM. Over 900 have been repatriated to Mogadishu. 300 received specific military police training and are cantoned in the Police academy and support Police forces to maintain law and order in the TFG areas. They notably intervene to secure captures areas and the Somali authorities are particularly satisfied with their action. 500 others are organised in fighting companies, under the mentorship of AMISOM. They are deployed south of Bakara Market, on the frontline, and participate to the current offensive. The feedback we received from various sources (TFG, AMISOM, contractors) is, as well, very positive.
EU reaffirms its support for AMISOM and praises the commitment and bravery of the AMISOM peacekeeping troops who as I would like to repeat, together with the security forces of the TFG, have paid a heavy toll to help build security for the Somali people. Due to their commitment – most often with Ugandan leadership, strategic locations – areas in the eastern side of Bakara market – have been recently taken.
EUTM is and will be an extremely important component of the political strategy underpinning EU’s activities in Somalia and the East African region. Moreover, EUTM is a pioneering mission for the European Security and Defense Policy as it is the EU’s first military training mission being undertaken in Africa. I also acknowledge the contribution of EU Member States missions for their cooperation with EUTM.
I therefore look forward to seeing the completion of the next phase of training and will certainly attend with pleasure the “end of training parade” foreseen to take place in the next few weeks.
As Colonel Michael Beary, takes over the mandate, I look forward to continued close cooperation. The EU will certainly do its best to provide local political guidance to the Mission Commander.
Let me therefore re-iterate that:
The reintegration of the first contingent is very much a success
The partnership between EU/UPDF/US in support of NSF is a success.
The EU remains committed to supporting the Uganda training, because of positive results on the ground.
The partners will keep the pressure on the TFG and the National Somalia Forces to maintain their commitment and their good management of the trained troops. A new assessment on the reintegration will be conducted in late September/October.
EUTM will now focus on the chain of command and on the "Train the Trainers" (TTT) for Somalia, in order to give to them the capability to perform by themselves basic training in Mogadishu within a period of one year.
Let us keep up the good work!
Dr Roberto Ridolfi
Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Uganda