Govt to authorize use of Estonian defense forces in new EU military operation

  • 2020-04-01
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian government at a sitting on Thursday is to authorize the use of the defense forces in a new military operation of the European Union.

The Council of the EU has decided that the current EU military operation Sophia will be concluded and a new military operation, Irini, will be launched instead. The decision to conclude the mission Sophia and the decision to establish and launch the mission Irini will be taken by the Council by written procedure, which will run until March 31. Decisions take effect on the same day. Due to the time-critical nature, it is not possible to apply for a new resolution of the Riigikogu, which is why it is necessary to start using the defense forces in the new EU mission Irini by order of the government.

EUNAVFOR MED operation Sophia was launched on June 22, 2015 as part of the EU's comprehensive approach to migration, and will cease permanently on March 31, 2020.

Participants at the Berlin Conference on Libya on January 19, 2020 committed in particular to fully respect and implement the arms embargo established by the United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) 1970 (2011), 2292 (2016) and 2473 (2019). Against this background, the Council reached a political agreement to launch a new operation in the Mediterranean, aimed at implementing the UN arms embargo on Libya by using aerial, satellite and maritime assets on February 17, 2020.

Irini will have as its core task the implementation of the UN arms embargo through the use of aerial, satellite and maritime assets. In particular, the mission will be able to carry out inspections of vessels on the high seas off the coast of Libya suspected to be carrying arms or related material to and from Libya in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2292. As secondary tasks, EUNAVFOR MED Irini will also monitor and gather information on illicit exports from Libya of petroleum, crude oil and refined petroleum products; contribute to the capacity building and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy in law enforcement tasks at sea; contribute to the disruption of the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks through information gathering and patrolling by planes.

Irini will be led by Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini as EU operation commander, and its headquarters will be located in Rome, Italy.

The mandate of Operation Irini will initially last until March 31, 2021, and will be under the close scrutiny of EU member states that will exercise political control and strategic direction through the Political and Security Committee (PSC), under the responsibility of the Council and the high representative of the union for foreign affairs and security policy.