The European Union (EU) and India have forged a significant cooperation, uniting their naval and diplomatic efforts to combat the increasing maritime threats in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
The strategic partnership reflects a shared commitment to maintaining stability and security in the GoG.
Four Navy Ships from three EU member states; France (FS Ventose Naval Ship), Spain (SPS Bam Tornado), Italy (TS Foscari), and India (Ins Sumedha) have docked at the Tema Harbour in Ghana after a joint exercise at sea.
It recognises the relationship between Ghana and the European Union in the field of defence and security.
The joint call on Ghana’s territorial waters forms part of a broader EU strategy in the Gulf of Guinea called the Coordinated Maritime Presence (CMP), which includes France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and Portugal.
Besides piracy and armed robbery, the GoG also suffers from Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing and transnational organised crime activities, including smuggling and trafficking of drugs and arms.
Therefore, the CMP strengthens the EU’s role as a global maritime security provider to promote international law, to defend the EU’s interests, to uphold freedom of navigation, including the usage of EU Member States’ naval assets in the context of maritime diplomacy and to deepen maritime cooperation with partners in the framework of the EU Maritime Security Strategy.
Mr Irchad Razaaly, EU Ambassador to Ghana, who was given a guided tour of the four naval ships with Ambassadors of the EU member states in Ghana, said “the joint call will ensure that there is cooperation between Ghanaian authorities of a permanent military presence at sea to help in the fight against maritime threats, including piracy, illegal fishing and others.”
He said the cooperation reinforced the existing EU Naval operations with a coordinated maritime presence that sought to deal with the insecurities at sea and to make the seas safer and more stable.
“Not so long ago, the Gulf of Guinea was a worldwide hotspot piracy,” he said, and that piracy disrupted access to international trade and maritime economic activities generally.
The Ambassador said the Gulf of Guinea was a major route for international trade and that the increasing maritime security threats were worrying, requiring such effective collaborations to nip it in the bud.
“Our joint interest is to fight piracy because it is disrupting the Ghanaian economy. A safer sea means a better economy for Ghana,” Mr Razaaly emphasised in an interview with Ghana News Agency.
He said the European Union cooperation with Ghana was wide-ranging, and went beyond trade cooperations, economic development, and job creation to extending vaccine capacity and security and defence inland and at sea.
Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, Chief of the Defence Staff, Ghana Armed Forces, acknowledged the defence cooperation between Ghana, European Union and India, which signified a shared responsibility at addressing maritime security challenges.
He said effective collaboration with the European Union and other partners had led to the significant reduction in maritime security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, hitherto known as a hotspot for piracy globally.
The CDS said Ghana was currently confronted with two major security concerns – the threat of terrorism that had emerged from the Sahel Region and piracy and IUU fishing.
He applauded the EU and other collaborators for continuously playing crucial roles in maintaining maritime stability as such insecurities had the potential to disrupt international commerce and peace.
Vice Admiral Amoama said Ghana was to receive 105 militarised vehicles from the EU to assist the country in the fight against terrorism.
Colonel Romi Singh Legha, Defence Advisor, High Commission of India, said both the EU and India possessed significant maritime interests and concerns and that the bilateral cooperation in maritime security would be further strengthened.
He said India was open to more of such collaborations, including deployments to areas where the maritime domain experienced issues of piracy and illicit activities.
Mr Javier Gutierrez, the Spanish Ambassador to Ghana, said the visits by the Navy Ships reflected the importance the EU attached to security in the GoG, adding that there was the need for coordinated efforts to fight maritime threats.
He said Spain was reinforcing its cooperation with Ghana and that the Spanish Naval Ship (Tornado) would soon embark on defence cooperation activities with their Ghanaian