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Latvia not to take part in anti-pirate initiative

  • 2008-10-06
  • Talis Archdeacon in cooperation with BNS

An EU operation will combat piracy off the Somalian coast.

RIGA 's TheLatvian Defense Ministry has announced that the country will not take part in aEuropean Union operation to combat pirates off the coast of Somalia.

A Latvian resident is currently being held captive afterSomali pirates high jacked an arms shipment last week. Most of the crew wasUkrainian.

"The EU has not yet made a decision on the launch of the operation in Somaliaand on the military capacities to be involved in this naval operation. Latviadoes not plan to take part in it yet," Latvian Defense Ministry'sspokesman Arturs Graudins was quoted by the Baltic News Service as saying onOct. 4.

Estonia isthe only Baltic state that has pledged to support the mission. Estonian DefenseMinistry spokespeople said, however, that because of limited resources thecountry would not be able to provide ships or personnel for the operation.

Though Latviawill not participate in the EU operation, representatives of the foreignministry have said that the country is working with Ukrainian authorities to tryand free the captured sailors.

Lithuania,meanwhile, has applauded the EU effort to tackle piracy off the Somalian coast.Defense Ministry spokespeople said, however, that the country was not preparedto send troops on the mission.

Heavily armed Somali pirates have hijacked more than 60 vessels off thecoast of Somaliathis year, making its waters the most dangerous in the world.

Somali pirates are currently demanding 20 million dollars to free 20 crewmembers and cargo of 33 tanks, grenade-launchers and other weapons aboard aUkrainian ship hijacked last week. One of the ship's crew members is a Latvian resident.

In late May pirates hijacked the freighter Lehmann Timber that had an Estonian national serving as firstmate. The man returned home safely two months later.