During a port visit to Djibouti by Spanish EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) flagship ESPS Méndez Núnez, and warship ESPS Rayo, Force Commander Rear Admiral Pedro García de Paredes held meetings with other EU leaders to demonstrate the commitment of EU NAVFOR to work together with other missions towards a common goal of improving security and stability in Somalia.
On Sunday 3 March, Rear Admiral Pedro García de Paredes hosted a meeting on board ESPS Rayo with Admiral Jacques Launay, the Head of Mission for EUCAP Nestor. EUCAP Nestor is a civilian mission aimed at strengthening the Rule of Law in Somalia, with an initial focus on the regions of Puntland and Somaliland, and developing the maritime capacities of Djibouti, Kenya, and the Seychelles.
Afterwards, the Force Commander hosted a meeting on board ESPS Méndez Núnez with Mr Maciej Popowski, the Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service (EEAS) and Mr Walter Stevens, who is the Head of the Crisis Management and Planning Directorate (CMPD) at EEAS.
During the meeting Rear Admiral García de Paredes highlighted the success that Operation Atalanta and other counter-piracy forces are having in the High Risk Area, with pirate attacks down from 176 in 2011 to 35 by the end of 2012. However, the Force Commander reiterated that there is still much work to be done by those involved in countering piracy off Somalia, with the recent disruptions by EU NAVFOR demonstrating that pirates still have the will and means to deploy to sea.
Following the meeting a number of EU ambassadors and diplomats based in Djibouti, along with representatives of the embassies of the US and Japan, local authorities, the Commander of the French Forces in Djibouti (FFDJ) and the Head of Mission of EUCAP NESTOR, came on board ESPS Méndez Núnez for lunch.
In the afternoon Djiboutian and Somali journalists were welcomed on board. They were briefed on counter-piracy operations off Somalia and given the opportunity for a question & answer session with Rear Admiral Pedro García de Paredes, Mr Maciej Popowski and the Head of the EU Delegation in Djibouti, Mr Joseph Silva. Mr Popowski completed his regional visit with a call to the Support Element Atalanta (SEA) facilities and the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) detachments at the Air Base.
On 4 March, Rear Admiral García de Paredes paid a visit to the Commander of the French Forces in Djibouti (FFDJ), Brigadier General William Kurtz. The EU Naval Force Commander thanked General Kurtz for the permanent support to the German and Spanish MPRA Detachments provided by the French Forces in Djibouti. The EU NAVFOR MPRA detachments play a crucial part in Operation Atalanta by gathering and providing intelligence information and pictures.
EU NAVFOR, March 8, 2013