Foreign Minister Sven Mikser (SDE) was in Italy on Thursday. He was given an overview of the European Union’s efforts in the Mediterranean to thwart human traffickers bringing in illegal immigrants to the union’s Mediterranean member states.
Mikser met with Italian Rear Adm. Enrico Credendino, the commander of EUNAVFOR Med, better known to the general public as Operation Sophia. Credendino and his units have the task to work against human traffickers bringing in illegal immigrants to the territory of the EU.
Operation Sophia was started in June 2015. To date, it has rescued close to 40,000 refugees, confiscated and made safe 372 vessels, and detained and handed over 101 human smuggling suspects to the Italian authorities.
Estonia is represented in the operation by one staff officer and one medic of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF).
Since 20 June 2016, Sophia is also helping to improve the capabilities of the Libyan coast guard and navy in order to strengthen control over the country’s sea border, and also supports the implementation of the UN arms embargo near the Libyan coast.
“We value the role of Rear Adm. Credendino and the entire Operation Sophia team in easing the migration crisis,” Mikser said. “The results of the operation are a good example of cooperation between countries aimed at slowing illegal immigration and human smuggling in the Mediterranean.”
Mikser added that bringing the migration crisis under control was part of Estonia’s priorities as the currently presiding member state on the EU council, and that headway could only be made by acting in concert and maintaining the EU’s unity on its foreign policy.
Editor: Dario Cavegn