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NATO assumes control in the Aegean Sea

11 February 2016 / 15:02:59  GRReporter
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NATO Standing Maritime Group 2 will be sent "without delay" to the Aegean Sea to assist in managing the refugee crisis on the maritime border between Greece and Turkey.

As reported by the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, its members will carry out surveillance tasks in the Aegean in order to discontinue the activities of trafficking networks. The Turkish and Greek coast guards will operate only in the territorial waters and air spaces of their countries. The overall operation will be under German command in cooperation with the coast guards of both countries and the European border control agency Frontex.

The task of NATO forces will not be "to stop or push back" refugee boats but "to contribute critical information and surveillance", the ultimate goal being to counter the human trafficking criminal networks, as stated by Stoltenberg.

Currently NATO Standing Maritime Group 2 has three ships, but a large number of the members of the alliance have expressed their readiness to provide naval forces and therefore the fleet is expected to increase very soon.

The decision for NATO intervention in guarding the Aegean Sea was taken after a formal request for assistance from Germany, Turkey and Greece.

In statements earlier today, the US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter stressed that the intervention of the North Atlantic Alliance aims only to interrupt the activity of trafficking networks and has no other purpose.

"There is now a criminal syndicate which is exploiting these poor people in an organized trafficking operation. Targeting that is the greatest result we can achieve from a humanitarian point of view," he said.

"Now it is important to take swift actions," stated the German Minister of Defence Ursula von der Laer while her US counterpart supported her position by saying that Washington shares the need for rapid actions. "The life and fate of many people are at risk," added Carter.

NATO already has deployed large-scale military forces in the Eastern Mediterranean region to support Turkey in connection with the Russian operations in Syria, which include AWACS aircraft coordination and surveillance, warships and air patrol forces.

 

Tags: NATOAegeanTrafficking networksNATO Standing Maritime Group 2Greek and Turkish Coast Guard
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