Taiwan and Somaliland are to establish representative offices in each other’s countries, after signing a treaty in Taipei in February, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) announced yesterday.
The two nations have agreed to establish a “Taiwan Representative Office” and “Somaliland Representative Office,” Wu told a news conference in Taipei, after Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) a day earlier shared a foreign media report that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi has appointed a representative to Taiwan.
Taiwan maintains diplomatic ties with 15 countries, with Eswatini being its only ally in Africa.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
Somaliland, which is on the Horn of Africa and has a population of nearly 3.9 million, does not have formal relations with China.
This is not the first time that a representative office has used the name “Taiwan,” which was gladly received by Somaliland, Wu said, adding that the name “Republic of China” was not used because formal ties have not been established.
Taiwan has not set any limits on what form bilateral relations should take, and both sides finally agreed that representative offices would best reflect their interests, Wu said, adding that discussions began at the end of last year.
He and Somaliland Minister of Foreign Affairs Yasin Hagi Mohamoud Faraton on Feb. 26 signed a treaty at a ceremony in Taipei, after which Faraton also met with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Wu said.
The treaty is named the “Bilateral Protocol between and by the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the Government of the Republic of Somaliland,” the ministry said.
While the exact dates for the offices’ launches are still to be negotiated, Taiwan has since Feb. 6 sent officials to Somaliland to make preparations, he said.
Both sides would collaborate in areas such as agriculture, education, energy, fisheries, health, information and communications, and mining, he added.
Asked if Taiwan recognizes Somaliland as an independent country, as the East African country is not recognized by the UN, Wu said that eight countries or global organizations, including Canada, Denmark, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Turkey, the EU, the UK and the UN, have established representative agencies there.
Somaliland also has representative offices in 22 countries, he said, adding that Taiwan’s measure is no different from that of other countries.
“Somaliland has been independent since 1991 and has held three presidential elections,” Wu said.
It is also recognized by many other countries as a democratic and uncorrupt nation, he added.
Somaliland, which is in northwestern Somalia, in 1991 declared independence from the latter.
Taiwan has since 2009 gradually developed positive relations with Somaliland, with bilateral collaborations focusing on boosting maritime security, medicine and health, and education, Wu said.
Both sides would appoint a senior diplomat and four officers for each new office, Wu said, but withheld the officials’ names.
Yen Chen-shen (嚴震生), a research fellow at National Chengchi University’s Institute of International Relations and an expert on African politics, said that it is a positive development for Taiwan, but the Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have established formal ties with Somaliland in one swoop.
Establishing a representative office does not necessarily lead to establishing formal ties, he added.
While the office might be of “very limited” help in expanding relations with other African nations, given China’s influence on the continent, it symbolizes that “at least we are fighting back,” he said.
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