Djibouti, 22 July 2019-Among many meetings that Operation ATALANTA Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Giovanni Battista Piegaja attended in Djibouti this week, were meetings with Djiboutian authorities at the Djiboutian Armed Forces Headquarters, the Diboutian Navy Headquarters/Coordination & Control Center and the Djiboutian Coast Guard Headquarters.
Meeting with the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Djiboutian Armed Forces
In a meeting with the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Djiboutian Armed Forces, Gen. Ali Mohamed Taher, R. Adm. Piegaja discussed how Djiboutian armed forces are a key partner for EU NAVFOR Somalia in the fight against piracy off the Horn of Africa. He stressed that EU NAVFOR Somalia Operation ATALANTA recognizes the good work Djibouti authorities do from a political and military perspective.
"'We are aware that our good relationship with Djibouti is crucial if we want to promote stability in the region," he said.
Meeting with the Chief of Staff of the Djiboutian Navy
R. Adm. Piegaja met with the Djiboutian Navy's Chief of Staff, Commander Ahmed Djama. In their discussions, R. Adm. Piegaja emphasized the importance of EU NAVFOR's relationship with Djibouti.
"We are very aware that Djibouti plays a key roll in our Operation," he said. "By maintaining a good relationship with all countries within the region, we promote stability in the Horn of Africa. To this objective, EU NAVFOR recognizes the outstanding work that Djibouti authorities do."
EU NAVFOR staff took the opportunity to explain the new Cooperation Concept ATALANTA (COCOA) to Commander Djama. COCOA is a mechanism that EU NAVFOR developed to increase synergies with regional states and military actors present in the region and to complement each other efforts in a pragmatic, flexible but predictable way.
Mr. Djama expressed that the Djiboutian Navy depends on EU NAVFOR Somalia for security in the waters off the Horn of Africa.
"We are concerned about other illegal activities that happen in the region, like human trafficking and other illegal traffic. We are also concerned about the possibility of an increase in piracy activities if EU NAVFOR were to leave the area, like what happened when NATO's Operation Ocean Shield ended in 2017.
Meeting at the Djiboutian Coast Guard Headquarters
In a meeting with the Coast Guard Colonel Wais Omar Bogoreh, R. Adm. Piegaja again had the opportunity to explain COCOA to Colonel Bogoreh and his staff.
The Djibouti Coast Guard was established in 2010, and now operates in a maritime area of responsibility in the Indian Ocean from the borders of Somalia to Eritrea. The Djibouti Coast Guard collaborated with Somalia to help create its own coast guard, and they provide protection to different assets that are posted in Djibouti's port, including EU NAVFOR vessels.
"We have illegal activities 24 hours/day in our area, and maritime security is a important issue in this part of the world," said Colonel Bogoreh. "Our coast guard is an example of efficiency in the region, but EU NAVFOR support is still needed in the Horn of Africa."