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Brussels, 31 October 2014
Commissioner Malmstrom welcomes the launch of the Triton operation
I am happy to announce that the Triton operation requested by Italy will start on November 1st as scheduled. Frontex has received sufficient offer of both equipment and border guards from the vast majority of Member States. The Agency is therefore ready to launch this tailored made operation that matches all the requests made by the Italian authorities.
Triton is an important tool to complement the efforts of Italian authorities and a sign of European solidarity. It is also one of the many measures put in place by the European Commission to help Italy cope with the increasing migratory and asylum pressure in the Mediterranean, which is a European sea and a European responsibility. With 21 Member States and Schengen Associated countries participating, Triton is a concrete prove of European assistance, and I would like to thank all countries which have offered assets and human resources.
I am confident that Triton, the biggest maritime operation Frontex has ever coordinated, will help saving lives at sea and will contribute to the Italian humanitarian efforts. The operation will be carried out in full compliance with international and EU obligations when it comes to full respect of migrants' rights and of the principle of non-refoulement, which does not allow push-backs.
With its Mare Nostrum operation, Italy is doing an excellent job in assisting thousands and thousands of refugees who have risked their lives by trying to cross the Mediterranean in rickety vessels. The future of Mare Nostrum remains in any case an Italian decision, but it is already clear that the Triton operation cannot and will not replace it. Triton is a tool we are making available to Italian authorities upon their demand and according to their specific requests for equipment and human resources. It will not affect the Italian responsibilities in controlling its part of the EU's external borders and its obligations to guarantee search and rescue at sea according to international and EU obligations, which I am confident that Italy will continue to fulfil. In order to be successful, these efforts at sea need to be complemented by other measures. It is vital that EU states now fully implement the Common European Asylum System, and that a serious effort will be made to establish a truly European program for the resettlement of refugees.