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Operation Irini must have the necessary means to carry out its mandate (General Graziano)

(B2 – exclusive) 'Operation Irini'. The name of the EU's newest naval operation is on everyone's lips in the world of European defense. Will she have more success than her predecessor Sophia in controlling the arms embargo in Libya? We interviewed General Claudio Graziano, President of the European Union Military Committee 

General Graziano (credit: EUMC)

Operation Sophia is mainly remembered for the rescues at sea. It did not really succeed in enforcing the embargo imposed by the UN on arms to Libya. This became the priority for Irini. What is changing? 

— Thanks to air, naval and satellite assets at its disposal, Operation Irini will be able not only to enforce the arms embargo in the assigned area of ​​operation, but also to monitor violations in a wider area. broad and in different dimensions, ensuring to the best of its abilities a balanced and impartial approach. This will allow the European Union to provide the United Nations with a more complete picture of possible arms trafficking to Libya.

Irini should have started on April 1 but was ultimately delayed, since member states did not provide the necessary means. Many questions arise. As chairman of the military committee, you know how the negotiations are progressing. Are you optimistic? 

— Operation Irini is essential to control the arms embargo, for peace in Libya. This is why it must have the necessary means to implement its mandate. The operation was designed in a relatively short period of time, demonstrating the EU's ability to respond in times of crisis. We now face a new challenge: the complex task of moving smoothly from one operation to another.

All this, without forgetting the unexplored challenge represented by the current coronavirus pandemic, one of the most difficult trials that all of humanity has ever faced, in a very long time. I understand that the Coronavirus may prevent some Member States from providing resources for the moment. However, a clear declaration, expressing the intention to support Irini as soon as conditions permit, will bring credibility to a mission which represents the spearhead of CSDP activities.

Is the will of the 27 enough, in your opinion?  

— With this clear mandate for monitoring the arms embargo, Operation Irini is further proof that EU member states can ultimately demonstrate unity of intent, responsibility , particularly when it comes to security threats and challenges of common interest. This decision also underlines the desire of the European Union to play its role credibly, in an area of ​​strategic interest. It is a concrete contribution to the implementation of the conclusions of the Berlin conference on Libya, and which has the essential task of monitoring the arms embargo established by the United Nations.

(Comments collected by Aurélie Pugnet)

Interview conducted between Monday April 6 and Saturday April 11, in English, by email

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