Naples, 29 September 2023
Anchored in the Gulf of Naples, the crew of the Italian navy amphibious ship San Giusto and the
Greek frigate HS Kanaris, participating to Operation Irini, welcomed the 27 Ambassadors and
members of the Political and Security Committee (PSC) of the European Union. The delegation
flew from Brussels to Capodichino airport on an Italian Air Force aircraft, before being transferred
to the Italian ship by helicopters.
The PSC, chaired by H.E. Delphine Pronk, President, is accompanied by General Robert BRIEGER,
highest military authority present and President of the European Union Military Committee
representing the Chiefs of Defence of the 27 Member States.
For the first time since the launch of Operation IRINI in 2020, representatives of all EU Member
States at once were present to appreciate and see first-hand the proficiency of the women and the
men of this operation.
The PSC was received by the Undersecretary of State for Defense, Hon. Matteo Perego di
Cremnago, on behalf of the Italian Government. In his speech to the Ambassadors led by the Chair
Delphine Pronk, the Minister emphasized Italy’s commitment in this sensitive area of the southern
border of Europe. He stressed that Italy has consistently provided a significant portion of the air
and naval assets deployed, along with nearly half of the military personnel participating in the
Hon. Perego affirmed: “Today, the Strategic Compass is proving to be an indispensable tool for
defining the limits of a common strategic culture and, above all, for defining the guidelines,
including political ones, necessary to give substance to the European Union desired and deserved
role as a global player”.
The delegation continued its visit on board where they met with Rear Admiral Stefano Turchetto,
who leads the operation from the headquarters in Rome. In his speech, the Admiral gave an
overview of the current strategic situation in the Central Mediterranean. Afterwards, the
Commander of the Naval Air Group at sea, Rear Admiral Valentino Rinaldi, gave the PSC delegation
a tactical update on the current configuration of the Naval Air Force and the ongoing operational
In order to fully understand and be involved in the board’s daily activities, the PSC delegation was
invited to attend a practical demonstration on board. It consisted in the Italian Special Forces
boarding the Greek naval unit, HS Kanaris, with two Hurricane rigid keel inflatables and a heavy
helicopter. Another helicopter with sharpshooters on board provided the expected (in real case)
security coverage to the operations.
The practical simulation took place after a tour of the ITS San Giusto main operational areas such as the staff room, the combat operations center and the bridge. In the early afternoon, the delegation moved on to HS Kanaris, to meet the crew and the Commander. Addressing the esteemed guests who have honored Operation IRINI with their presence, Rear Admiral Turchetto concluded by stating: ‘Peace is achieved through the cooperation of people. Therefore, I extend my sincere gratitude to the European Union Political and Security Committee for their visit, which confirms the continued support of the Member States of the Union for EUNAVFOR MED IRINI’.
Ambassador Delphine Pronk, Chair of the EU Political and Security Committee, thanked the
Operation Commander, the personnel of the Operation and the Italian hosts by stating:
“Operation IRINI is an important instrument of the European Union to support through concrete
actions the return to peace and stability in Libya. We strongly value the commitment of all the
women and men engaged in the Operation. “
Every day, the staff members operate on land and at sea with the utmost commitment and
dedication aimed at combating the trafficking of weapons to and from Libya, in the framework of
the embargo imposed by the United Nations Security Council. Among the operation’s secondary
objectives count the prevention of illicit oil exports via monitoring and surveillance activities, as
well as the disruption of human trafficking channels from Libya.