On Sunday, 15 December 2013, EU Naval Force French flagship, FS Siroco hosted a meeting with Somaliland representatives, including Vice President Abdirahman Abdallahi Ismail Saylici.
The visitors were welcomed on board by Mr Etienne de Poncins, Head of Mission of the European Union’s maritime security capacity building mission, EUCAP Nestor, and the new Force Commander of the EU Naval Force, Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean.
The event which took place at sea off the coast of Berbera, was an opportunity to highlight the complementary work of the European Union missions in the Horn of Africa and how they work together with regional states and entities to help strengthen security and local capacities.
In line with the European Union’s comprehensive approach to the region, the meeting was also seen as a stepping stone for technical cooperation between EUCAP Nestor, Atalanta and Somaliland. Somaliland plays an important role in countering piracy in the region by deterring pirates’ activities on land, and is therefore seen as an important partner in strengthening regional maritime security. During the meeting, a joint plan of future activities and programmes proposed by EUCAP Nestor was established and endorsed by the participants.
“It was an honour for EUCAP Nestor and EU Naval Force to host the Delegation from Somaliland today” says Mr de Poncins. “Mentoring, advising and training as well as providing light equipment, are the core activities of EUCAP Nestor in the Horn of Africa region” he continues. ”Our future presence in Hargeisa will make it easier to coordinate these activities with Somaliland and to plan and carry out training and workshops. We are excited to develop further partnership with Somaliland and committed to deliver on time programmes and equipment as discussed during the meeting. They will reinforce maritime security in the region as a whole”
Currently EUCAP Nestor activities related to Somaliland are dealt with by staff based in Nairobi, with support from the headquarters in Djibouti. The mission is in the process of establishing an office in Hargeisa that will enable EUCAP Nestor to support Somaliland on a more permanent and efficient basis.
Previous EUCAP Nestor training, such as the investigation of maritime crime training for the Somaliland Coast Guard in November, has taken place on board EU Naval Force ships at sea. In the future, the intention is for EUCAP Nestor to have police, legal and maritime experts deployed on a rotating basis to Somaliland in order to work together with their counterparts to design and run mentoring, advisory and training programmes. A maritime security course, with links to the World Maritime University, is also proposed for next year.
Speaking about the meeting, Vice President Abdrihman Abdillahi Ismail Zeylai added “We welcome this engagement with EUCAP Nestor as it will pave the way for technical cooperation in the field of maritime security. Somaliland is committed and is an active partner in the fight against piracy and has done a lot through its small resources, but we request EUCAP Nestor to seek the mandate, apart from training and capacity building to provide us material support to complement our contributions on the fight against piracy.”
EUCAP Nestor is a civilian mission mandated to assist countries in the Horn of Africa and the Western Indian Ocean region to develop and enhance their own maritime security. The mission also aims to develop land-based coastal police forces and judicial capabilities in the region.
EU Naval Force deters, prevents and represses acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia. EU Naval Force ships protect World Food Programme vessels delivering aid to Somalia and AMISOM shipping. EU Naval Force ships also contribute to the monitoring of fishing activity off the Somali Coast.
Press Release, December 16, 2013; Image: EU Navfor