On 25 January, the EU civilian operations commander, Kenneth Deane, visited the regional HQ of the EU’s maritime security capacity building Mission in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean -EUCAP Nestor- for the first time. Mr. Deane is the commander of the EU’s civilian operations and responsible for the conduct of all civilian Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions currently underway around the world (11 in total).
The visit began in Djibouti where EUCAP Nestor Mission has its headquarters. The aim was among others to become familiar with the Mission’s activities and achievements in the field and know the realities that the mission faces in this region. Exchange with local and international partners as well as EUCAP Nestor staff was an essential part of his visit.
“In Brussels, we receive the mission reports on paper. Talking with people and getting to know the environment in which they operate makes things more understandable” commented Mr. Deane during his visit. “Having myself been in charge of a civilian EU Mission in another context (EUPOL COPPS in Palestine), I know some of the challenges one can face and whilst recognizing the difficulties of the Mission with a regional mandate, I encourage EUCAP Nestor –as one essential part of the EU’s comprehensive approach in the Horn of Africa- to continue its good work in the fight against piracy.”
Upon his arrival, Mr. Deane was able to visit the three key partners of the Mission in Djibouti, including the Coast Guard, the Navy and the Ministry of Justice. These three institutions are the primary partners of this technical Mission given its mandate that is to assist host countries in developing a self-sustaining capacity in order to strengthen their maritime security, including the fight against piracy and maritime governance.
The visit was also an opportunity to award service medals to European staff and certificates of merit to Djiboutian personnel. The Common Security and Defence Policy Service Medal is awarded to individuals, both military and civilian, who have served as international staff in a CSDP mission for more than 30 days. This tradition has been established by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Defence Policy in 2003. To honour also the merit of local colleagues, the Head of Mission of EUCAP Nestor, Mr. Etienne de Poncins, decided to award a certificate of merit to all local colleagues who have worked to a high standard within the Mission for over 9 months.
“ Pro pace unum – United for Peace- is written on the back of the medal” said Mr. de Poncins at the ceremony. With our activities in the region, we contribute to the peace and stability and support the countries with whom we work to strengthen their maritime security and governance systems and to fight against maritime crime and piracy more effectively.” After his speech, medals and certificates were awarded by Mr. Deane, the European Union Ambassador in Djibouti Joseph Silva and the Head of Mission.
The visit of the Civilian Operations Commander will continue in the coming days across the region, especially to Somalia, which is at the core of EUCAP-Nestor’s mandate, before returning to Brussels having been able to formulate his own impressions.
EUCAP Nestor is a civilian EU mission, under the Common Security and Defence Policy, with Headquarters in Djibouti which assists host countries in the Horn of Africa and Western Indian Ocean region (Somalia, Djibouti, Seychelles and Tanzania) in strengthening their capacity to ensure maritime security and in particular to fight piracy. This is done through training, advising and mentoring in three competence fields: legal, maritime and police.