Of the over 3,500 ships of the German merchant fleet currently more than 3,000 are "temporarily under a foreign flag," the euphemistic term. The freshly hijacked "Ems River" is a classic example of more than 80 percent of the German merchant fleet: The ship was built at a shipyard in Bangladesh for the shipping company Grona Shipping in Papenburg. Of the eight crew members, seven seamen from the Philippines, one is from Russia. The ship sails under the flag of Antigua and Barbuda. Under the flag of the tiny island nation in the Caribbean a total of 981 ships pass (2005, recent data are not available), 953 of whom are from other states refuge under the flag, of which 853 from Germany. The VDR German shipping association has called for more protection of German ships after numerous attacks. VDR now demands the use of "sovereign armed forces" on board the ships by armed federal police officers or soldiers. "There will be discussions but no concrete legislation is planned," the spokesman said. He added the European Union's Operation Atalanta launched in 2008 provides a framework for deterring pirates and protecting shipping. Officials from the ministries of defense, foreign affairs, transport, interior and justice will attend the meeting, as will Deputy Economics Minister Hans-Joachim Otto. It is expected to take place on January 24.
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