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Poland engages in Operation Sophia in the Mediterranean

(B2) A new air detachment has joined Operation EUNAVFOR Med Sophia. A Polish unit, was integrated Thursday (March 1), on the air base of Sigonella (in Sicily).

The 'White Lady' over the Mediterranean

It is composed of an Antonov AN-28 B1R (or M28 Bryza) aircraft, n° 1017 says 'White lady' from the 44th Air Base in Siemirowice, and 100 servicemen. Men who come mainly from the naval air brigade (Brygada Lotnictwa Marynarki Wojennej) and other elements (3rd flotilla, 6th radio-electronic center, inspection of the armed support forces, 10th logistics brigade, 9th command support brigade, Special Forces Component Command and Military Police).

First participation in an EU maritime operation

This is the first time that Poland has made a contribution to the European maritime operation launched in 2015 to combat trafficking in the central Mediterranean, and even the very first time that it has taken part in EU maritime operations (against piracy for example).

Several months before

A reconnaissance of the Sigonella base took place in October 2017 and January 2018. At the same time, the trained contingent was preparing for the certification exercise carried out by the operational command at the end of January, according to the ministry statement. An advance detachment deployed on 6 February.

Fight against migrant smuggling

This commitment was decided by the former government and approved by the Polish President, Andrzej Duda, on January 31. A decision which seems to respond to a double motivation: to prove that Poland is committed alongside other countries in the fight against the trafficking of migrants (1), in particular Italy, to underline Warsaw's desire to respect the commitments of permanent structured cooperation.

The expression of our solidarity

« It is a mission that shows our solidarity with our EU partners and will bring us positive results, as it increases security” underlined the Minister of Defence, Mariusz Błaszczak, on February 12, during the departure ceremony. " It is very important that the Polish army participates in this mission, so that we fight this conflict together, because there is no doubt that the migration crisis is the basis of a conflict that brings us a bloody harvest in Europe. »

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) This commitment is part of the standoff between the Visegrad countries (including Poland) on relocation against Brussels. A small Polish detachment is also present on the border between Macedonia and Serbia. 

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).