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Lithuania considers sending troops to Somalia anti-piracy mission

Somalio piratai
„Scanpix“ nuotr. / Somali pirates
Šaltinis: BNS

Lithuanian Chief of Defense Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius says that a group of Lithuanian troops can be sent to an anti-piracy operation off the coasts of Somalia during the country's presidency over the European Union (EU) in the second half of 2013.

"We plan to delegate (troops) for the period of Lithuania's presidency over the European Union Council," Pocius told BNS.

The earlier discussion was sending special operators to the EU-led operation ATALANTA; however, the chief of defense said that the mission off the African coasts would be performed by a mobile ship security group consisting of Land Forces soldiers who would be deployed on ships carrying humanitarian aid.

"This is a unit of Land Forces, as it is merely a ship protection function," Pocius said.

"As you know, the region of operations is enormous. I cannot be more specific but this is where the anti-piracy operations are taking place. The ships carry humanitarian aid to African countries. To be safe against Somali pirates, such mobile teams would be very useful. We intend to prepare one team and dispatch it to the operation," said the lieutenant general.

Pocius said the group would consist of about 20 soldiers, noting that the size of the Lithuanian unit was yet to be decided and could still change, depending on circumstances.

Lithuania's parliament passed a resolution in June, which will allow sending troops to the European Union's operation ATALANTA against Somali pirates. Currently, one officer from the Lithuanian Joint Headquarters is taking part in the operation.

The EU operation ATALANTA was launched in 2008 in response to piracy attacks against private and commercial vessels off the coast of Somalia. The operation is vital in the economic, security and economic aspect, as the EU imports about 50 percent of its crude needs from the Persian Gulf via the Gulf of Aden, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

Lithuania will hold EU presidency in the second half of 2013.

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