With words like democracy, religious freedom and human rights, Mikael Torstensson and Magnus Oscarsson are trying to convince the world that Somaliland should be recognized as an independent state.
By Jacob Zetterman
Mikael Torstensson who is the official Somaliland representative to the European Union and Magnus Oscarsson who is a member of the Swedish Parliament proffered these sentiments during an interview with Dagen newspaper of Sweden.
According to the duo Recognizing new countries is controversial since it Always upset someone and it is easy to ideally drown in geopolitical considerations.
“Who wants to admit democratic Taiwan, when the superpower and dictatorship get China opposed? Torstenson argues adding that Government recognition of Palestine, and non-recognition of Western Sahara, are two other examples of how complex it is when new nations are to receive support.
Envoy to the EU
So it is not an easy task that Mikael Torstensson took on since being appointed as Somaliland’s representative to the EU. He is one of the country’s most persistent defenders and the goal is independence from the war-torn Somalia.
The ever Smiling swede was appointed envoy due to care for Somaliland’s well-being as well as good contacts right up to government level, and also lives part-time in Somaliland.
On this day Dagen Newspaper meets him in parliament with the Christian Democratic MP, Magnus Oscarsson (KD), who is politically responsible for Somaliland’s independence in Sweden. The KD politician has written motions, deputy foreign minister Margot Wallström (S) against the wall and has lifted Somaliland’s independence as an issue for the KD’s empire this autumn, hoping to bring the whole party with him.
When I asked the Foreign Minister about Somaliland’s recognition, she replied that Sweden does not want to disturb peace talks in Somalia,” says Magnus Oscarsson.
Small steps towards independence
Recently Somaliland opened a representative office in Sweden, the closest embassy to a non-recognized country can come. It is yet another small step towards independence, but what Mikael Torstensson is most likely to lift is that both Ethiopia and the United Arab Emirates have just signed bilateral agreements.
“It is de facto recognition,” he says.
But there is still no country that formally acknowledges Somaliland, and Mikael Torstensson points out that, for example, Sweden can contribute and write history and influence a whole region in a more democratic direction.
Expert on history
Mikael Torstensson is able to account for Somaliland’s history as a flowing water, used to selling the country quickly to politicians. It is about historical injustices, what the colonial borders meant and that Somaliland already chose to go its own way away from the war of Somalia in 1991, instead to become a democratic example in the Horn of Africa.
Mikael Torstensson is burning for his task is easy to see, and again and again, he uses the word “we” when he talks about Somaliland.
– Somaliland is an unprecedented success story. We have had 26 years of peace and democratic development, he says.
The fact that he, as a white Christian, has gained so much confidence, is also seen as an income for the country’s openness, most of which are Muslims.
In a free Somaliland, how would it look with freedom of religion?
“Right now, the world has an opening to support a country that works with these questions. Freedom of religion is a part of the human rights underwritten, “says Mikael Torstensson.
Risk that jihadist groups “take care”
But above all, he points out, there is currently every opportunity to participate and influence. And if the western world is uninterested, there are other forces that would like to take care of. Especially Saudi Arabia, the superpower nearby. Around the knot, there are also jihadist groups like al-Shabaab and al Qaeda.
“Here we have a golden chance to recognize a country that works with democracy, human rights, and religious freedom. We need good examples in Africa, and here Sweden can be at the forefront, “says Magnus Oscarsson.
Is there no risk that you paint a dream image of Somaliland?
“You can not swallow everything. But from what I’ve experienced, we make a big mistake if we do not support this country, “says Magnus Oscarsson.
Mikael Torstensson answers the question of drawing up a map from the organization Freedom House, the organization that specializes in measuring democracy in the world. Somaliland is the only country that is marked with yellow in the region, thus basically lonely about not being a dictatorship.
“Yellow means partly free, and it’s because the elections that were to be held now have moved to this fall, due to the drought, it has not rained in two years,” says Mikael Torstensson, adding quickly.
– All in agreement with the opposition.
“In the neighboring countries, the opposition is in prison, in Somaliland, they are in parliament, Magnus Oscarsson fills with.
Mikael Torstensson concludes that Somaliland could be a key to building democracy in other clan-based societies, such as Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.
– Somaliland can serve as an example.
Original Swedish language story titled “De vill att Somaliland erkänns som egen stat” by Jacob Zetterman and we translated using google translator