By EU NAVFOR Public Affairs Office
Rear Admiral Duncan Potts, Operation Commander of the European Union Naval Force Operation Atalanta (EU NAVFOR) met on 18 September 2012 with President James Michel during his visit to the Seychelles, confirming the importance of the Seychelles in the fight against piracy in the Indian Ocean.
Rear Admiral Potts, together with the EU NAVFOR Force Commander, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, the British High Commissioner to Seychelles, H.E. Mrs Lindsay Skoll, Political Advisor for EU NAVFOR, Mrs Joanne Hamer, Chief of Staff Commander Jerome Origny, EU NAVFOR Liaison Officer, Lieutenant Commander John Simpson, and the Italian Consul to Seychelles, Claudio Izzi were welcomed at State House. The Seychelles Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jean-Paul Adam, and the Secretary of State in the Office of the President, Barry Faure, were also present during the meeting.
Rear Admiral Potts and President Michel discussed the progress made over the last three years in terms of the coordinated approach being used in the fight against piracy, the reduction number of piracy incidents this year, as well as the success of anti-piracy efforts and political progress that has taken place following the London Conference on Somalia in February. The President reiterated the Seychelles unchanged commitment concerning the prosecution of suspected pirates – around 25 per cent of men currently jailed in Seychellois prisons are Somali suspected pirates.
Rear Admiral Potts reassured the President of the European Union’s commitment to prevent and deter piracy in the High Risk Area, which includes the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone.
“The fight against Somali piracy is not finished. Only a concrete improvement of the situation in Somalia could allow a return to normality. Operation Atalanta is part of the comprehensive approach of the European Union in Somalia and we will remain vigilant and committed…Seychelles plays an extremely important part in our operation and I am grateful for all the support we get,” said Rear Admiral Potts
President Michel said: “We are grateful for the support of the European Union Naval Forces in the fight against piracy, especially as there have been substantial results in the last year…. Seychelles is always ready to play its part in achieving regional peace and stability and we are encouraged by the positive changes and progress taking place on the ground in Somalia that will bring about the conditions to prevent future piracy. Somalia needs stability that will bring an end to the piracy threat”.
Rear Admiral Duncan Potts was also welcomed by Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino and his staff on the flagship ITS San Giusto, currently on a port visit in Port Victoria. Rear Admiral Potts addressed the entire crew and congratulated them for the job made so far, and spurred them “to keep going this direction with unchanged concentration”.
Speaking during the visit, Rear Admiral Credendino said
“I can reassure that our guard, mine and that of my whole staff, will not go down for any reason even after the good results of the last months and still more after the end of the monsoon period”.
During his two days official visit in Seychelles, Rear Admiral Potts met with other ministers and officials from the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces to further discuss the support that Seychelles provides to the EU NAVFOR force in terms of basing for maritime patrol aircraft, logistics support to the ships that operate in the Indian Ocean and the work that the Seychelles is doing in prosecuting and incarcerating pirates as well. He also visited the personnel working with Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecution and Intelligence Coordination Centre (RAPPICC).
During the port visit, a team of Seychelles Coast Guard personnel was given an anti-fire and personnel recovery class onboard ITS San Giusto.