Robles has expressed "Spain's interest in continuing Operation Sophia." An operation that, he said, "is essential for Spain the European Union".

The Minister of Defense, highlighted the "strategic interest" that the Mediterranean Sea has for Spain and, the symbolic fact of the election of Sigonella, as a detachment for this visit is, among others, to highlight Operation Sophia.

In statements to the media, Robles has valued Spain's effort to contribute to European security, noting that Spain is the largest contributor to EU missions. And with respect to NATO, he has set as an example the bases located on Spanish soil, which contribute decisively to the operation of the Atlantic Alliance.

He has also referred to those who express their skepticism for the role that the Armed Forces perform abroad, and recalled that "in this globalized world, any threat to security in the world, is a threat to security and peace in the European Union. "

Finally, Robles has emphasized the leadership that Spain has assumed by betting on space and cybersecurity, an aspect that will give more visibility to Spain within the European Union and the entire international community.

Upon arrival at the base, Robles was received by the head of 'Operation Sophia', Admiral Enrico Credentino, and by the head of the 'Grappa' detachment of the Air Force, Lieutenant Colonel Guillermo Cordero.

Before starting the tour of the facilities, the minister met with Admiral Credentino who gave him details of the evolution of the operation and the latest actions in the Mediterranean Sea.

Then, he has moved to the work area of ​​the Spanish military, where the head of the Air Force detachment, Lieutenant Colonel Cordero, explained to him what his duties are and how his day-to-day operation is.

The minister has also held a meeting with the members of the detachment, in which she took the opportunity to congratulate Christmas. And he has transmitted that "they are one of the best demonstrations in Spain and that those men and women prominent in Sigonella are the best of the Air Force."

The head of Defense has concluded her visit to the facilities with a tour of the communications center, the maintenance area, the mission support center, role 1, the area of ​​operations and the D4 VIGMA aircraft, the apparatus of maritime patrol that the Air Force contributes to this international mission.

During the visit, the minister was accompanied by the Secretary of State for Defense, Angel Olivares; the chief of the General Staff of the Air, General of Air Francisco Javier Salto, and the second head of the Operations Command, General of Division, Francisco Braco.

'Operation Sophia "

The Italian air base of Sigonella, located on the island of Sicily, is a military installation that is part of NATO and, since June 22, 2015, coordinates the European Union Naval Force Mediterranean operation, known as the 'Operation Sophia '.

The objective is to patrol through waters of the south of the central Mediterranean to identify and capture vessels suspected of being used by smugglers or immigrant traffickers.

On a secondary basis, the mission supports the implementation of the Libyan arms embargo, imposed by United Nations resolution, and conducts training for the Coast Guard and the Libyan Navy.

The operation has the participation of 26 member states, while 5 have a direct participation: Luxembourg, Poland, France, Italy and Spain.

Specifically, the Spanish Air Force contributes with a maritime patrol aircraft (a D-4 Vigma of the 803 Squadron, based at the Getafe air base). At present, 38 Spanish soldiers are deployed in this enclave.

In addition, Spain supports the operation with 8 troops in the Headquarters of Rome, and 3 more in the Headquarters of the Force, in Rota (Cádiz).

The countries of the European Union agreed on March 27, 2019 to temporarily suspend naval deployment due to the lack of agreement on the landing of rescued immigrants. However, Member States seem willing to revert to this matter to resume the withdrawal of naval assets in this operation.

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