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After Gaddafi, Italy and Libya renewing 2000 years old relationship.


Oil Diplomacy.- ENI CEO Paolo Scaroni and Mahmoud Jibril PM of the Libyan rebel council. Scaroni said Italian will return to pre war production in June 2012 Photo Credit Getty

Before the Benghazi uprising last year, Italy had a cosy commercial relationship with Colonel Gaddafi.

ENI, Italy’s state owned oil company, enjoyed valuable long-term oil concessions, both in the Sahara desert and – for the future – offshore, and 25% of Italy’s oil and gas needs were supplied by the former colony.

A treaty of “eternal friendship” had been signed between Silvio Berlusconi and Muammar Gaddafi in 2008.

The Italians publicly apologised for their misdeeds of an earlier era when tens of thousands of Libyans (no-one knows exactly how many) died in concentration camps or were massacred by Italian troops during land grabs in North Africa.

The core of the treaty was an Italian promise to build and pay for a new highway across the Libyan desert, all the way from Tunisia to Egypt.

All this fell apart during Libya’s Arab Spring.

The friendship treaty became a dead letter after Nato’s bombing raids flew out of Italian military airfields. Italy’s embassy in Tripoli was burned and trashed by Gaddafi mobs.

New diplomacy

Now, very slowly and tentatively, relations are being restored.

“Paternalism is not the order of the day,” a senior Italian diplomat told me. The Monti government has held out a hand of friendship offering assistance in many fields including the training of Libya’s future security and police forces.

A hundred Italian military trainers will leave shortly for Tripoli and…READ MORE HERE