Italy to help Libya protect borders and oil fields
Italy ruled Libya from 1911 until losing control of it in World War II. In August 2008, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi signed a treaty which included an indirect apology for abuses during Italy’s colonial rule and a promise to pay Libya $5 billion over two decades.
“The apology has been accepted,” Keib said when asked whether Italy needed to apologise for its colonisation.
The two sides said nothing about the future of the 2008 deal, but Libyan officials indicated that it could be reconsidered by future Libyan governments.
“This government … doesn’t have the power to sign any long term treaties that the Libyan people could reject once an elected government is in place,” Keib said.
The Libyan interim government was appointed in November by the self-appointed but internationally recognised National Transitional Council.
(Editing by Tim Pearce)
Reuters Africa – Sat Jan 21, 2012
Italy and Libya, a tale of money, oil and colonial scars
Libya is a key-country for Italy in its relations with the southern Mediterranean shore. After Mr Berlusconi’s unprecedented apologies for Italy’s colonial past in the country, and the sign in August 2008 of a bilateral cooperation treaty, a recent visit to Rome by Muhammar Qadafi opened a new phase in the Italo-Libyan relations.
According to the treaty, Italy pledges to invest 5 million dollars in 20 years in infrastructural and housing projects on the Libyan soil. This money should come from additional taxation on the Italian oil companies operating in Libya, specifically Eni – among whose stakeholders can be found an increasing number of Libyans.
Libya is an important source of oil for Italy, that imports an average of 550 thousand barrels per day from its southern partner. At the same time, Tripoli is also becoming a growing supplier of natural gas, a source of energy Italy is increasingly dependent on. That’s why the two countries signed several new energy agreements, that will protect Rome’s share in Libya’s energy market at least until 2047.
But there’s much more than energy. Libya is increasingly important to Italy because it has become a major hub for African and Asian immigrants heading to Italy and, from here, to the rest of the European Union. Migrants approaching Italian southern coasts are actually a fraction of the overall illegal aliens trying to enter the country, the majority of whom come by land from Eastern Europe. But they have a vast media impact, especially due to the high rate of casualties among those who cross the Sahara desert and, then, the Mediterranean sea.
Finally, the end of US sanctions and the international rehabilitation of Libya, together with the country’s opening to the world and the new prominent role Qadafi wants to play in Africa, open new chances of political and economic development, both for Tripoli and, indirectly, for its northern neighbour.