EU anti-pirate mission to move headquarters to Spain

Baku, August 2, AZERTAC

The European Union's largest military initiative, a mission dedicated to the fight against pirates in the Indian Ocean, is to be headquartered in Spain after Brexit, the Spanish defense minister confirmed Monday.

Operation Atalanta has spent 10 years countering Somali-based piracy and ensuring ships carrying humanitarian aid are protected but the United Kingdom's decision to leave the EU means its headquarters need to be moved to a different member state.

Spanish defense minister Margarita Robles said the move would allow Spain to "have an active role in missions that involve cooperation for peace and security in the world."

The mission is currently headquartered at Northwood in northwestern London but in Mar. 2019 it is set to move to Rota Naval Base, outside the Spanish southwestern coastal city of Cadiz.

"The European Union is concerned with the effect of Somali-based piracy and armed robbery at sea off the Horn of Africa and in the Western Indian Ocean," the service said in a statement.

"Somali-based piracy is characterized by criminals taking control of vessels transiting the High-Risk Area in the Region and extorting ransom money for the crew, the vessel and cargo: this bears all the features of organized crime," the service explained.

The decision was announced at a council of EU defense and foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

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