Operational Commander of EU NAVFOR on Official Visit in Seychelles
Operational Commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Bob Tarrant, is currently in Seychelles on an official visit, where he will meet with key stakeholders and government actors involved in the fight against piracy.
Thus far he has met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam and the Minister for Home Affairs and Transport, Mr. Joel Morgan. Discussions were held on the progress made in the fight against piracy; one in which Seychelles has played a proactive role and has been a viable partner.
The need for continued presence of the EU Naval Force and other like-minded missions within the Indian Ocean and around the Gulf of Aden was reiterated with due importance. Although there has been a notable decrease in successful pirate attacks, the mere fact that such activities are attempted implies that piracy is still a great cause for concern.
States should not be complacent in the face of this scourge and it is in this spirit that the Rear Admiral, in his capacity as Operational Commander of the EU Naval Force, has consecrated his efforts in promoting the need for the continued operation of Atalanta past its 2014 mandate.
It is hoped that the operation may extend its mission through to 2016, in order to allow the region to address root factors that have cumulated towards the rise of pirate attacks since 2008, while maintaining maritime security within the Western Indian Ocean region.
The mission has also carried out various capacity building exercises, notably with the Seychelles Coast Guards on occasions where flag vessels have called in to Port Victoria, further displaying a will for the development of forces within the region, allowing them to independently address transnational crime in future.
“Operations such as Atalanta are crucial to stability in the Western Indian Ocean”, said Minister Morgan during his meeting with the Operational Commander. The Minister also called for all within the region to take on ownership and responsibility towards reducing the effects of transnational crime by maintaining their support for operations and measures being taken within the region for a more secure ocean.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs echoed the views of his counter-part, adding the wish to see international operations continue to work together towards achieving common goals and objectives, as the commercial route is of great significance to all countries. “Two thirds of the world’s oil comes through the Indian Ocean, making the cost of not deploying such missions ever higher”, he reminded.
Emphasis was also made with regards to other transnational crimes which are of growing concern amongst countries. As such, the Regional Anti Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Coordination Center (RAPPICC) has undertaken an important transition to evolve into the Regional Fusion and Law Enforcement Center Safety and Security at Sea (REFLECS 3), creating a mandate for a more comprehensive approach towards combating transnational crimes at sea.
Both Ministers reiterated Seychelles’ commitment to the fight against the scourge of piracy and of continued engagement towards the maintenance of maritime security within the region, without omitting the need for sustained action towards the re-building of Somalia.
The European Union was also represented during these meetings by the British High Commissioner, Mrs. Lindsay Skoll and the French Ambassador, Mrs. Genevieve Iancu. Both Ambassadors agreed that the visit is one which reflects a direct manifestation of the EU’s commitment to Seychelles, as a fundamental partner in the fight against piracy, which is as much of a “global” problem as it is regional and national.