EU High Representative Visits French EU Naval Force Warship FS La Fayette Whilst in Kenya and Somali

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Captain Merveilleux du Vignaux and EUNAVFOR Operation Commander Admiral Potts greet High Representative Catherine Ashton she boards FS LaFayettePress Releases by EU NAVFOR Public Affairs Office

On 26 August, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Commission Vice President, Catherine Ashton visited the French EU Naval Force Somalia Operation Atalanta (EU NAVFOR) warship La Fayette during her visit to Kenya and Somalia.

She was welcomed on board by the Commanding Officer Captain Guillaume Merveilleux du Vignaux and the EU Naval Force Operation Commander Rear Admiral Duncan L. Potts.

During this visit she was accompanied by the EU Special Representative for the Horn of Africa Alexander Rondos, the Head of the EU Delegation to Kenya, Ambassador Lodewijk Briet, the commander of the EU Training Mission to Somalia (EUTM) Colonel Michael Beary and the Head of the new capacity building mission (EUCAP Nestor), Admiral (retd) Jacques Launay.

This opportunity was used by the High Representative to promote the Comprehensive Approach to fighting piracy. The EU’s Comprehensive Approach to the region is outlined in the “Strategic Framework for the Horn of Africa”, which the Council adopted on 14 November 2011 in order to guide the Union’s engagement in the region.

Speaking onboard FS La Fayette, the High Representative said: “It is a great pleasure to be on board and to have the opportunity to meet those who are working at the frontline of our efforts to deter and combat piracy. And it is a privilege to be able to thank personally those navy personnel, the helicopter crews and boarding teams who are here providing such important work on a day to day basis – they do a magnificent job. Without EU NAVFOR we would find ourselves faced with a growing piracy problem rather than a decreasing threat. It is most important that we all remember that while the problem manifests itself at sea, the solution to piracy lies on land. It is our ambition to see the EU’s Comprehensive Approach work in support of a stable and peaceful Somalia. “

EUNAVFOR has successfully reduced the pirates’ ability to capture vessels in the Western Indian Ocean. However, the merchant community and regional stakeholders must remain alert, .

Asked on the state of play of Operation Atalanta, EU NAVFOR Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Duncan L. Potts said: “The Operation has come a long way since 2008. Then the focus lay primarily on protecting World Food Programme shipping and piracy had not spread into the Indian Ocean. But over the last three years piracy has spread and our mission has rightly developed to combat this. In the last year we, together with NATO, the Combined Maritime Forces and independent national deployers such as China and India, have enjoyed a considerable degree of tactical success. Also, Industry is playing its part to protect itself and we are seeing changing dynamics in Somalia. As we move to a much more legitimate and accepted governance and as we see prosperity returning in some areas, the tolerance and corrosive impact of piracy on society within Somalia becomes apparent. We now need to move forward, along with the other mission (EUTM) that are helping to train Somali troops and particularly with the new civilian mission, EUCAP Nestor, that is looking to develop the capacity of Somalia to provide their own security and law enforcement ashore. It is of great importance that we increase pressure on pirates by pulling on all the levers, judicial, some financial, some military and some governance and security.”

During her subsequent visit in Somalia on 27 August, Catherine Ashton said: “I take this opportunity to assure the Somali people of the EU’s continued support, including support for the African Union in its mission to create the necessary conditions for the development of Somali security forces, and with EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) engagement through the EU Training Mission (EUTM), EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) and its new capacity building mission (EUCAP Nestor). You are not alone”.

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