EU nations sanction further counter-piracy measures
By Brooks Tigner
While successful pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden and other hot spots have declined in recent months due to naval patrols and other measures, the international community is taking no chances on a resurgence.
Not only has the EU recently authorised its 'Atalanta' counter-piracy mission in the Indian Ocean to attack the pirates' land-based infrastructure, but individual European countries are moving swiftly to enable the use of private security guards on commercial vessels.
"Successful attacks are relatively low right now, but this is no time for complacency," Thorsten Bargfrede, strategic planner for counter-piracy at the European External Action Service (EEAS), told a conference at Belgium's Royal Military Academy in Brussels on 3 May. The EEAS is the EU's new foreign policy and diplomatic corps.
Noting that 33 vessels were captured by pirates in the Indian Ocean in the first half of 2011, but only three in the second half, he warned that the strategic conditions that allow pirates to flourish "have not changed. These groups remain active, their capabilities are still there and their attack attempts continue unabated".
Such conditions lay behind the EU's 23 March decision to extend the mandate of 'Atalanta' for another two years until December 2014 and to expand its remit beyond vessel escort duties and counter-piracy manoeuvres off the coast of Somalia to include attacks against the pirates' shore-based assets.226 of 638 words
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