Pomp and colour marked the official opening of the Somaliland embassy offices in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday morning.
Taiwan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu and Somaliland’s Representative to Taiwan Amb Mohamed Haji Omar, were present and delivered speeches while president of Somaliland Muse Bihi Abdi, who attended the event via video conference, also addressed the opening ceremony.
Somaliland’s opening of the embassy in Taipei comes barely a fortnight after Taiwan also set up their officer in Hargeisa, the capital city of the Horn of Africa nation.
The two countries which are yet to get recognition from the United Nations agreed to enter into diplomatic in July after the Somaliland minister for Foreign Affairs an International Cooperation Yasin Hagi Mohamud Hiir “Faratoon visited Taipei and held talks with Taiwan’s leadership.
Taiwan and Somaliland have agreed to cooperate on higher education, agriculture, mining, fishing, energy, public health, and information technology.
Hagi, the new Somaliland envoy to Taiwan said trade, security and development corporation were key aspects of “this very special relationship.”
The two are “members of the same community of democracies founded by our shared political and economic freedoms, as well as international values,” Hagi said.
Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said both faced external pressures but are “proud of our sovereignty and ready to defend it.”
The new found diplomatic partnership between Somaliland and Taiwan has ruffled feathers in some quarters but also attracted support elsewhere.
While China and Somalia condemned the partnership, the United States came out hailed it as a step in the right direction.
Taiwan has just 15 formal diplomatic allies and is considered by China a part of its territory, while Somaliland is recognized internationally as part of Somalia, from which it broke away in 1991.
Somaliland has seen little of the violence and extremist attacks that plague the rest of Somalia.
While neither Taiwan or Somaliland are recognized by the United Nations, they both maintain their own independent governments, currencies and security systems.
Moves to formalize ties got underway after Wu and Somaliland’s foreign minister, Yasin Hagi Mohamoud, signed a bilateral agreement in Taipei on Feb. 26. Taiwan has been providing scholarships to students from the region of 3.9 million people and has offered cooperation in areas such as fisheries, agriculture, energy, mining, public health and education.
Somaliland and Taiwan find themselves located near strategically important bodies of water. For Taiwan, it is squeezed between the Taiwan Strait to its west, the East China Sea to its north, and the South China Sea to its south. All three waterways are important for the transit of goods both regionally and globally. Somaliland finds itself in the strategically important Horn of Africa on the Gulf of Aden, the access point for the Red Sea.