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The mission of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: to collect information

(credit: Bundeswehr)

(B2) The German Daily Time and patience published an account of his presence on board the frigate Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. " We are here to fight traffickers and enforce the arms embargo underlined Commander Christian Schultze. In other words, not only to rescue refugees, as is often believed when speaking of the operation (1).

Gather as much information as possible

Bundeswehr soldiers regularly visit Libyan or Tunisian fishermen. Embarking on water, fruit or... chocolate, the boarding teams aim to make friends with the local boats. " Soldiers talk to crew, ask fishermen about smuggling activity or if they've noticed anything unusual near shore ". " It's like making friends says Schultze.

... recut, dissected

The information goes back to HQ at the European Union Mission in Rome and to Bundeswehr Operations HQ near Potsdam. They are assessed, shared (with EU border agency Frontex, police agency Europol and Italian authorities) and cross-checked. Because everyone has different information. " I don't know if a French unit could have similar information [to the ones we collected],” Schultze told Die Zeit journalist Veronika Völlinger.

A real network mosaic, beyond suspicion

Little by little, a more complete picture of the activities of smugglers and their networks is thus emerging. " It's a real mosaic ", points out the commander, " nobody really suspects how important it is »


(1) Confusion profusely maintained by the communication generated by the operation, which often has the only concrete assessment to provide but the number of people recovered at sea like the Bundeswehr.

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).