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Since 2015, the operation EU NAVFOR MED has constituted a part of the comprehensive approach by the European Union and the international community to address the problem of people smuggling and illegal migration in the region. It is also part of a broader engagement with strategic and regional partners in fully addressing the structural causes of migration in the countries of origin. The main purpose of the operation is to limit people smuggling activities in the Mediterranean.

In accordance with the decision of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, the Slovenian Armed Forces participates in the new Operation IRINI to the same extent as in the previous operation EU NAVFOR MED Sophia. Since the conclusion of Operation EU NAVFOR MED Sophia, which expired on 31 March, the Slovenian Armed Forces have participated in Operation IRINI with two members deployed in the Operation’s headquarters in Rome. The participation in Operation IRINI, the new EU military operation in the Mediterranean Sea, is dictated by the great geostrategic importance of, above all, the central coast of North Africa (Libya) for the security in the Mediterranean and, consequently, in Europe and Slovenia. The participation of the Slovenian Armed Forces in Operation IRINI will also contribute to the further enhancement of its naval capabilities.

At a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, 17 February, a political decision was adopted to conclude Operation EU NAVFOR MED Sophia. At the same meeting, a decision was made to set up a new EU military operation in the Mediterranean Sea, called IRINI. The Government of the Republic of Slovenia supported the EU's strong role in the implementation of the Berlin Process arrangements in the Mediterranean, and announced its further participation in the operation, which would, under appropriate conditions, focus primarily on the implementation of arms embargo control on maritime routes and the execution of supplementary tasks, including the control of the implementation of measures related to the illegal export of oil and its derivatives from Libya, fight against organized crime in connection with migration, and training of the Libyan Coast Guard and Navy.

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