Djibouti: Rear Admiral Antonio Martorell Lacave’s Speech On Board The ITS Carlo Margottini 22/05/2019May 23, 2019 - 09:13
Djibouti, 22 May 2019
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
I have the honour to welcome you all here in Djibouti on the flight deck of the Italian Ship MARGOTTINI on the occasion of the visit of the High Representative for Foreign Affairs of the European Union, Madame Mogherini. Madame, it’s a pleasure to have you on board!
A decade ago – when the Somali piracy crisis really began to affect global shipping – the EU and regional states such as Djibouti took note of the profound human and economic costs exerted on international commerce, and took decisive action to respond to it. At that time, the global incremental costs from Somali piracy were estimated to cost at least seven billion USD.
EU NAVFOR – was launched in December 2008, and has been active in countering piracy in the Indian Ocean ever since. Thanks to the efforts of EU NAVFOR and its international partners, the impact of Somali piracy today is minimal. Shipping must still take precautions, but it is no longer under high risk.
It is my truly believe that this is a result of the combined action from different countries and organisations together with initiatives from regional states which aim to overcome maritime insecurity. I would therefore like to seize this occasion to salute and to thank those here in the region who continuously support us: regional states, other multinational operations and many other national contributions and efforts. With all our different mandates and capabilities, we have to ensure that we show the flexibility required to support each other the best we can to keep the seas safe.
My gratitude goes also in particular to the Djiboutian authorities: in EU NAVFOR we take pride on our excellent relationship with the countries in the region who are actually the owners of maritime security to which we are merely contributors. Here, in Djibouti, you know better than I the enormous potential of the oceans and the seas for economic innovation and growt – and its vulnerabilities.
Our longstanding relations with the Djiboutian authorities are a case in point with our support element in Djibouti being an essential part of our deployment. As I will try to underline during the rest of my intervention cooperation and no competition is essential for providing security in this wide region
As some of you may know, I have come here today traveling from Rota, in the South of Spain, where the Operation Headquarters were relocated from the UK only two months ago, with the Maritime Security Centre Horn of Africa now being located in Brest, France.
From Rota I command an operation with one objective in mind: ensuring that what has been achieved operationally over the last decade is maintained and that EU NAVFOR continues to be regarded as a key provider of maritime security in the Horn of African region and in the Western Indian Ocean.
However, it was just one month ago that Atalanta intercepted a pirate action group at sea who was responsible for attacks against merchant vessels some 500 kilometres off the central coast of Somalia . The pirates where detained and are now on remand in the Seychelles. This action followed a series of incidents we witnessed over recent months in the Somali Bassin.
We know for a fact that pirate networks maintain the intent, the means and the capability to deploy and to attack merchant vessels. It is up to us – military operations, coalitions and regional states – to uphold deterrence, to operate in a flexible and agile manner and to keep the seas safe.
In addition we are all aware that developments in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden can impact the freedom of navigation from Suez to Socotra further down to the Seychelles. So with the mandate extension of Operation ATALANTA towards 2020, the EU has sent a clear signal that security and cooperation with regional states and military partners matters!
The European Union’s commitment to maritime security in the Indian Ocean goes far beyond solely the military means we deploy. We are putting in place tools and mechanisms to support coastal states and their populations, in order to develop the responses to maritime challenges that we know go well beyond the pirate threat. For while the maritime domain is the theatre in which many of today’s challenges are played out, almost all those same challenges have their origins on land. The EU therefore works hand-in-glove across Defence, Diplomacy and Development, between land and sea, between civilians and military forces, between EU actors and UN agencies. It is this “integrated approach” that the EU promotes, which makes us successful, and which makes us different.
EU NAVFOR operates within this integrated approach, coordinating activities with our sister missions in Somalia, with UN agencies implementing EU funded maritime Security initiatives in Somalia and throughout the region and cooperating with international navies and regional states. Thanks to the work of EUCAP Somalia and other initiatives, security bubbles created around the major Somali ports present expanding pockets of opportunity for international merchants with EU NAVFOR’s contributing to a more secure maritime flank, leading major shipping companies such as MAERSK now calling into Mogadishu. This in return provides opportunities to enhance trade opportunities, allowing markets to stabilise and creating revenue streams which ideally should be re-invested into the maritime security architecture.
I am well aware that the geopolitical environment in which we operate is becoming ever more complex, even as relations between countries are increasingly interdependent. This is why the European Union continues – and will continue to promote – an inclusive approach. Again, EU NAVFOR provides the obvious example. The principle of freedom of navigation is non-contentious, and is shared worldwide. And that explains why countries as far afield as Korea, New Zealand and even Colombia have contributed directly to our military operations.
[Whatever the threat, and whoever the adversary – but particularly in the face of transnational organised crime – our military forces have an increasingly tough job to do. That situation offers great prospects for those of us who share similar societal values and goals.
This is why EU NAVFOR has designed a mechanism called COCOA -Cooperation Concept for Atalanta, aimed to increase synergies with regional states and military actors present and to complement each other efforts in a pragmatic, flexible but predictable way.
To conclude let me underline that the Transfer of Authority shall not effect operational output. This is my personal main effort as I intent Atalanta to continue being a credible partner for regional states and international interlocutors.
Thank you very much
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