– CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY –
Thank you Mr President.
The Acceding country Croatia*, the candidate countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Iceland+ and Serbia*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.
The European Union remains fully committed to the fight against piracy. It is not acceptable that criminal gangs continue taking international shipping lanes hostage, and bring suffering to seafarers and their families.
However we see positive signs: Somali piracy is at its lowest levels since 2008, and the progress noted in the second half of 2011 has continued in 2012. For the first time, the number of disruptions by naval forces and other military units is higher than the number of attacks. The efforts of EUNAVFOR Atalanta and others is commendable as well as the cooperation with other partners in full adherence to the principles of international law.
Nevertheless, despite the recent success in the fight against piracy, we believe this is not the time for complacency. Key capabilities of criminal networks remain, and current trends can easily be reversed. We should exploit this moment of opportunity and further reinvigorate our counter piracy efforts in a “twin approach” – at sea and on land.
The EU has launched EUCAP Nestor, a new regional maritime capacity building mission which aims to strengthen the capacity of States in Somalia and the Indian Ocean to govern their territorial waters effectively and to reinforce their ability to fight maritime crime. The mission complements other programmes in the region.
We fully agree with the Secretary General’s observations, and see the need to increase support to programmes and initiatives that will limit the ability of groups of pirates to operate from land, while maintaining the pressure at sea. Key to this will be the ability of the Somali Government to regain control of its territory, to which the EU is contributing in a variety of ways, including by providing training to the Somali defence forces.
We look forward to a close cooperation with the new Somali government in ending the “culture of impunity”. The international community should increase its effort to build law enforcement and justice capacity in Somalia, and assist in the growth of economic opportunities. Piracy networks can only operate if they are given the necessary space on land, and we need to provide incentives to communities to deprive them of this possibility.
Efforts need to continue to pursue piracy network leaders, financiers and instigators and to tracking and disrupting financial flows. Their “risk/reward” ratio needs to increase, and the underlying business model needs to be broken. – The EU is actively supporting Interpol in its work to improve the evidence base and capacities of countries in the region to investigate crimes of piracy.. EU Member States, supported by EUROPOL, are also active in investigations and prosecution efforts.
The effectiveness of the international efforts to counter piracy depends also on the full respect of the applicable international law and the flag state jurisdiction in international waters.
We remain deeply concerned by a specific case of disregard of basic international law principles concerning the status of military personnel in action duty as VPD in an official counter-piracy mission, and the flag State jurisdiction in international waters.
Finally, allow me to reemphasize that the EU is convinced that only the establishment of the rule of law and economic development will undermine the breeding ground for organised crime in Somalia.
Although there are differences in methodology – pirates in the Gulf of Guinea focus more on cargo than hostage taking – the destabilizing and detrimental effects on the fishery, trade and development of the local population are similar. Through the Critical Maritime Routes programme, the EU is supporting countries in the Gulf of Guinea to establish regional maritime security mechanisms, share information and coordinate law enforcement.
To conclude, none of the actions described can solve piracy on its own. There is no “silver bullet”. The EU supports an integrated approach. Continued containment and deterrence by naval forces, appropriate measures to provide protection to merchant shipping, actions to end impunity, building regional capacities and finding solutions on land all need to come together. The key issues here are timing, sequencing and coordination.
* Croatia, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.
+ Iceland continues to be a member of EFTA and the European Economic Area.