Rome, October 1st
On October 1st 2021, Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini handed over command of Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI to Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto, during a ceremony at IRINI’s Headquarters in Rome.
“After one year and a half, we can say that Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI is now in a phase of full operational maturity. The operation is one of the most complex and significant EU Common Security and Defence Policy military operation. It is also the only international actor that implements the UN arms embargo on Libya and it does so in an effective, balanced and impartial manner. With its ships, aircraft, submarines, drones and satellites, the Operation monitors, photographs and verifies the situation in the central Mediterranean, in particular around Libya, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” underlined Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini for the occasion.
“Libya has already come a long way: a ceasefire between the warring parties in Libya has been signed, a new Government of National Unity has been established and oil production has resumed. It is of course difficult to quantify accurately the extent to which Operation Irini has contributed to this success.
However, thanks to the tangible results it has achieved since its launch in March 2020, IRINI has clearly been a key and meaningful European contribution to the overall efforts to bring back stability in Libya and security of this part of the Mediterranean.
This was precisely the objective that the EU Member States set themselves when they agreed to launch the Operation.”
In conclusion, Rear Admiral Agostini said he was “honoured to pass the baton to such an experienced Commander as Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto who, I’m sure, will do a great job for Europe, for its citizens, its values and for EUNAVFOR MED IRINI”.
“I am aware of the key role and importance of our mission to serve European people granting peace, prosperity and dignity everywhere among the Union. As a single entity, Member States of European Union faced and are still going to face a great challenge taking the responsibility to counter smuggling and illicit activities all across the Mediterranean Sea”, said Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto, in his investiture speech.
“To Admiral Agostini, Sir I saw the effort you did to lead this Operation and to prepare all your crews and forces to fulfil the growing expectations of our challenging future. I promise I will personally protect the inspiring legacy you’re giving us, always remembering that the very moment you stop preparing for an occurrence it will almost certainly happen”, concluded Rear Admiral Turchetto thanking Rear Admiral Agostini for the work done so far in the Operation.
The ceremony was attended by the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, General Claudio Graziano; the Italian Chief of Defence, General Enzo Vecciarelli and the Commander of the Italian Joint Operations Headquarters, General Luciano Portolano.
Since its launch, the Operation investigated some 4000 vessels, monitored 16 ports and oil terminals, carried out more than 180 visits on board merchant vessels with the permission of the Master and carried out 20 full inspections of suspect vessels with the consent of the flag state. In one of the inspections, an illicit cargo of military aviation fuel, prohibited by UN resolutions and European rules, was found and the merchant ship was diverted to a port in Greece.
This was the first diversion operation ever carried out by the European Union.
But Irini’s activities were not limited to the prevention and monitoring of trafficking at sea. Eunavfor Med IRINI investigated some 600 suspicious flights, monitored 25 airports, and analysed thousands of satellite images from the European Satellite Centre in Torrejón de Ardoz.
The results of this activity were reported in 20 inspection reports and some 31 special reports to the UN Panel of Experts most of them with evidence gathered for both arms trafficking and oil smuggling.