June 20, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Greece offers to take command of the EU mission in the Red Sea

Greece will offer to take command of the European mission in the Red Sea, Defense Minister Nikos Dendias said on Wednesday in Brussels.

Upon arrival at an informal meeting of the Council of Defense Ministers EU in Brussels Dendias said:“Today we will discuss, in addition to Ukraine, the European defense industry, in which Greece is especially interested. […] In addition, we will discuss the European mission in the Red Sea and I will propose that Greece take command of the operation and also offer the headquarters in Larissa as the headquarters of the mission.”.

EU members want to launch a naval mission in the Red Sea by mid-February to protect ships from attacks by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militia and could decide on the command structure on Wednesday, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.

“Not all member countries will want to participate, but no one will interfere… I hope that on the 17th of this month (February) the mission can be launched,” Borrell told reporters ahead of a meeting of European Union defense ministers. The goal of Wednesday’s meeting is to select a lead country and determine where the mission will be headquartered, who will participate and by what means, he said.

Borrell said the EU operation would be called “Aspides”which means “defender”and its mandate will be to protect commercial assets and intercept attacksbut not in participating in strikes against the Khutists.

France, Greece and Italy have expressed interest in leading the mission, and seven countries have so far said they would be willing to send naval forces, diplomats said, adding that the operation would build on existing EU missions in the region, Reuters reported.

Initially, three ships under EU command will take part in the operation. France and Italy already have warships in the region, and Germany plans to send the frigate Hesse there, diplomats said.

Greece was one of the first to send its warship to the Red Sea. In addition, Greece is one of the countries most affected by Houthi attacks.

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