On Tuesday 2 October EU NAVFOR Force Commander met representatives from the Omani media when his flagship, ITS SAN GIUSTO, visited Muscat (Oman). Omani journalists were welcomed by the Force Commander, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, and he briefed them on the evolution of piracy in previous months, before answering journalists’ questions.
The main issue Rear Admiral Credendino was asked about is the importance of Oman as a strategic partner of the EU in the fight against piracy. “Since the beginning of Operation Atalanta in December 2008, Oman is one of EU’s main partners in the fight against piracy and it’s not only because of geographical matters. It’s also because of the active Omani contribution to counter-piracy operations, both in terms of logistics (Salalah is, together with Djibouti, a key port of call for EU NAVFOR warships) and operations, since the Omani Navy and Coast Guard are doing a great job at sea.”
Having been asked if he thinks that piracy has been defeated, as last months’ numbers may suggest, the Force Commander replied that “there is no clear evidence that piracy in the Somali basin has been defeated. Furthermore if we consider that the monsoon period is ending and that pirates might come back to sea with renewed energy. My opinion” – he added – “is that there will be no end to Somali piracy until political and social stability ashore in Somalia has been restored. What I can assure you and the whole Omani citizenship is that we will not let our guard down”.
During ITS SAN GIUSTO’s port visit to Muscat, Rear Admiral Credendino also met with important Omani Authorities. Whilst visiting the Omani Minister of State and Governor of Muscat, he met the Deputy Minister of State and Governor of Muscat, H.E. Sayyed Said bin Ibrahim Al Busaidi. He also met the Vice Chief of the Omani Navy, Commodore Mohammed bin Ali Mubarik Al Farsi, at the Omani Navy’s headquarters. Both the meetings confirmed the commitment of Omani Authorities to supporting EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta in the fight against piracy.
During the port visit a group of Omani Navy and Coast Guard Officers visited ITS SAN GIUSTO and were shown the operational capabilities of the ship both as an amphibious platform and as a flagship.
The Force Commander also met the Cypriot Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Michalis A.Zacharioglou during an informal meeting at the Italian Embassy, hosted by the Italian Ambassador, H.E. Mrs. Paola Amedei.
H.E. Mr. Michalis A.Zacharioglouz, acting as EU Ambassador to Oman, confirmed to Rear Admiral Credendino that, far from being only a military concern, Somali piracy is first and foremost an international political matter. H.E. Mr. Michalis A.Zacharioglou expressed his appreciation for the results obtained by Operation Atalanta since it began in December 2008, with particular note given to the successes of the last year.
Rear Admiral Credendino also met the Defense Attachés of Italy, USA, France and Japan on board ITS SAN GIUSTO, for a brief update on the results obtained in the fight against piracy and the possible evolution of piracy itself in the near future.