Further improving efforts to tackle piracy

On 18 April the Cabinet decided to amend the mandate for the participation of German armed forces in the EU-led Operation ATALANTA. Extending the mandate would improve the operation and make it more efficient, said Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.

The operation, which was launched in 2008, aims to secure shipping carrying humanitarian aid, to provide effective protection against pirates and to combat piracy off the coast of Somalia. International efforts so far have produced results: the pirates’ success rates fell markedly in 2011. Westerwelle said piracy must be tackled “robustly and in a sustainable manner”.

Tackling piracy on the coast too

Provided the Bundestag approves the extension of the mandate, the German forces will be able to tackle the pirates’ logistics on the immediate shore, within two kilometres. The goal is to make the moves to combat piracy even more effective. The extension would allow the armed forces to destroy clearly identified pirate logistics (e.g. weapons, boats) not only on the sea, but also on the beach. Westerwelle said that extending the area of the operation would force the pirates to withdraw from the coast, making it much harder for them to use their boats and weapons.

German fregate Dschibuti

German fregate Dschibuti
© picture-alliance/ZB

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German fregate Dschibuti

German fregate Dschibuti

German fregate Dschibuti

There is no intention to deploy ground troops, other than to help German forces in trouble. Nor is there to be any change to the personnel ceiling for German soldiers of 1400. 340 are currently participating in the mission.

A motion to extend the mandate is to be tabled in the Bundestag next week. Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Defence Minister Thomas de Maizière have written to the chairs of the parliamentary groups in the Bundestag to call for MPs’ support. The Bundestag is to vote on the motion to extend the mandate sometime in May. The extended mandate would then run till 13 May 2013 at the latest.

Joint action with European partners

Westerwelle stressed that “Fighting piracy is a joint goal.” It was therefore “natural” to act together with our European partners. It was, the Minister went on, particularly important for Germany, as a major trading nation, to protect merchant shipping and seamen. The EU Council decided to extend Operation ATALANTA on 23 March 2012.

Blocking the pirates’ finances

Westerwelle emphasized the three pillars of Germany’s wide-ranging strategy to combat piracy: firstly, the priority was to ensure reconstruction and stabilization in Somalia. Secondly, and this was a focus of Germany’s engagement, the Minister said, the sources of the pirates’ finances needed to be uncovered and blocked. The ransoms paid to the pirates had to be uncovered and the instigators called to account. The third pillar was the soldiers’ direct engagement to combat violence by the pirates. It was, Westerwelle said, “very important to see all this as a whole”.

Together with partners from Europe and the rest of the world, Germany has been participating without interruption in the EU-led Operation ATALANTA off the Horn of Africa since December 2008. The basis for German involvement in a mandate from the United Nations Security Council and a related decision by the EU Council. The Bundestag first approved the mission on 19 December 2008.

Last updated 18.04.2012

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