The Ambassador of the European Union to Ghana, Irchad Razaaly, has intimated that so long as the longstanding, reliable relationship with Africa continues, Europe will offer ample support for the continent’s development goals.
He made this pronouncement during an interaction with Eye on Port’s Kennedy Mornah on Accra-Based Metro TV.
Discussing the rapid decrease in piracy incidents along the Gulf of Guinea, the Ambassador says Europe’s forces have enjoyed good cooperation with the regional navies and authorities toward overturning the spate of piracy and crew kidnappings in the West and Central Africa region.
He said despite the 90% reduction of incidents in the region, Europe will not rest on its oars but will continue collaborating with regional forces to eliminate the canker of piracy. This, he said, explains why naval vessels from Italy, Portugal, France and India visited the Port of Tema for a maritime exercise last week.
“The exercise’s purpose was to reinforce and improve interoperability to manoeuvre together and communicate better, which is the philosophy of the European Union. When the Italian navy ship is running out of fuel for example, another sister vessel can help refuel and come to its aid. These processes are not very easy, so this exercise was about making processes quick and effective.
“It’s also important for us to bear in mind that it is not going away and we need to keep mobilised and vigilant, because at any given point in time this can worsen,” he added.
The Ambassador of the EU to Ghana indicated that another reason for the brief maritime exercise was to publicly demonstrate some of the assets being deployed in Gulf of Guinea waters in the past few years.
He however clarified that the naval assets will continue to be deployed – in alignment with the strategies and priorities of ECOWAS and the regional authorities themselves under the Yaoundé Architecture.
He said the EU has a proven track-record, with the successes chalked up from its Operation Atalanta in Somalia – during the period when the Horn of Africa was a global maritime piracy hotspot.
Mr. Razaaly said the European Union is cognisant of the fact that the piracy issue has to be tackled with a comprehensive approach: “Because, in the end, pirates are venturing into piracy because they lack other opportunities”.
He said the insecurity issues should be approached from an integrated perspective, considering the land, sea and root causes that birth these criminal activities.
According to the EU Ambassador to Ghana, the Union aims to equip African human resource with capacity building – which is an important component of their support, just like most of their aid programmes. They do not simply intend to deploy forces through their Coordinated Maritime Presence programme.
He stated that because of the potential economic harm an unsafe maritime space can create, Europeans, like their trusted allies, will keep working to preserve and defend maritime trade routes in Africa.