The Chief of the General Staff of the Djibouti Armed Forces was decorated by Vice-Admiral Nuñez Torrente, Commander of Operation Atalanta.

Djibouti -On 17 July, at an official ceremony attended by the highest military authorities of the Republic of Djibouti, Vice-Admiral José Maria Nuñez Torrente, Commander of the European naval force Atalanta, awarded the European Union’s Common Defence and Security Policy medal to General Zakaria Cheikh Ibrahim, Chief of General Staff of the armed forces of Djibouti.

The CSDP medal, awarded by the High Representative for External Affairs and Vice-President of the Commission, H.E. Mr Josep Borrell Fontelles, is the European Union’s highest military distinction.

The award of this decoration on an exceptional basis to General Zakaria is in recognition of the Republic of Djibouti’s unfailing support for Operation Atalanta since it was launched in 2008. It is also a tribute to the professionalism of the Djibouti armed forces, a crucial partner of the European naval force.

“I am extremely proud to have the honour of presenting you with this medal today, a symbol of cooperation, friendship and mutual respect between Atalanta and the Djibouti armed forces,” said Vice Admiral Nuñez Torrente during the ceremony.

Since its inception, Operation Atalanta has conducted numerous exercises and trainings with the Navy and the Coast Guard, with the aim of increasing mutual understanding and interoperability between units from EU countries participating in Atalanta and Djiboutian units.

Djibouti, at the crossroads of Asia, Africa and Europe, has been home to Operation Atalanta units since 2008, housed at the French military base 188 ‘Colonel Émile Massart’. Part of Atalanta’s operational command is also present on the Djiboutian soil to provide logistical support for the units deploying to Djibouti, and to liaise on a daily basis with the Djibouti armed forces and the other military forces present in the country. The head of the operational detachment in Djibouti can also support the European Union delegation in Djibouti, providing military expertise, as was the case during the operations to evacuate European nationals from Sudan last April-May.

“All these successes in the area of maritime security since 2008 would never have been possible without the invaluable help of the Republic of Djibouti, and I would like to thank you warmly for that,” concluded Vice-Admiral Nuñez Torrente.