EU defense ministers on Wednesday reportedly accepted a same-day proposal by the Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias for Athens to assume command of a forthcoming military operation in the Red Sea and to host the mission’s headquarters in Greece.
Dendias took to X (formerly Twitter) later in the day to announce that the offer had been accepted.
The EU is planning to field a military presence, primarily naval vessels, in the Rea Sea to protect shipping lanes and commercial vessels from attacks by the north Yemen-based Houthi rebels.
In arriving at the informal summit of EU defense ministers, Dendias first expressed Athens’ willingness to assume command of the Union’s operation, code-named “Aspides” (Greek for shields), and to host its HQ at a NATO-specifications military base in the central Greece city Larissa.
According to the same reports, the French and Italian ministers were positive in their statements. The same reports maintain that the mission will be larger than the Irini operation, which focuses on maintaining a weapons embargo for strife-plagued Libya.
Speaking to reporters, Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said the goal is for the operation to commence by Feb. 19, when an EU council of foreign ministers convenes. He added that the operation will be strictly defensive in nature and proportional to the threat involved.
Στο Άτυπο Συμβούλιο Υπουργών Άμυνας της ΕΕ, σήμερα στις Βρυξέλλες, κατά τη συζήτηση για την Ευρωπαϊκή Επιχείρηση «ΑΣΠΙΔΕΣ» στην Ερυθρά Θάλασσα, ενημέρωσα τους ομολόγους μου ότι η Ελλάδα προσφέρει το Στρατηγείο της Λάρισας, ως Στρατηγείο για την Επιχείρηση, καθώς επίσης ότι έχει… pic.twitter.com/4dkFNupOtf
— Nikos Dendias (@NikosDendias) January 31, 2024