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An agreement between the EU and Oman in preparation on the fight against piracy

(BRUSSELS2) The ambassadors of the 27 finalized a text allowing the High Representative to open negotiations with the Sultanate of Oman. Text approved by the Ministers of European Affairs on October 11. The objective is to allow the transit and stationing of EUNAVFOR reconnaissance and maritime patrol aircraft in the small Persian Gulf state.

According to the information collected, the agreement should ratify certain principles described in the negotiating mandate.

The Sultanate of Oman accepts “transit over its territory and use of Thumrait airport by EUNAVFOR maritime reconnaissance and patrol aircraft ».

Aircraft and crew members are granted a special legal status: exemption from visa provisions for crew members, exemption from any customs duties for items intended for the operation, exemption from tax for goods purchased, services provided and facilities used by EUNAVFOR for the purposes of the operation, immunity from jurisdiction for aircraft, which may also not be subject to any search, requisition, seizure or enforcement measure, immunity from criminal jurisdiction for crew members who cannot be subject to any form of arrest or detention.

Claims for liability compensation (damage to or loss of property of civilians or the Host State, death or injury of a person and damage to or loss of property belonging to EUNAVFOR) are settled in principle “at amicably” and failing that, it is the subject of “consultation through diplomatic channels between the EU and the host State”.

Oman should also authorize the presence of individual weapons on board aircraft during transit or parking in the territory.

Quite classic provisions and similar to what we find in the SOFA agreements for the protection of troops employed by the European Union in external operations. But which would have a certain advantage: being able to better cover the eastern flank of the Gulf of Aden, in addition to Indian patrol aircraft which are located more in the eastern Indian Ocean. The western flank of the Ocean is covered by aircraft based in Djibouti, the southern flank by aircraft based in Seychelles (with a stopover in Kenya). The agreement with Oman therefore has a significant strategic dimension. It would also have the characteristic of a first for the European Union.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).