Italy to pay Libya $5 billion for its 30-year occupation
In return, Italy wants Libya to crack down on the thousands of illegal migrants smuggled across the Mediterranean to Italian shores. Libya has largely not delivered on pledges over the past few years to eliminate the problem. Italy will pay for $500 million worth of electronic monitoring devices on the Libyan coastline.
With the agreement, there should be “fewer clandestine migrants leaving Libyan shores for Italian” coastlines, Berlusconi said in comments broadcast on Italian state television.
Rome is also eager to increase its already long-consolidated energy ties with Tripoli. Libya is a big supplier of natural gas and oil to Italy. Berlusconi said the agreement helps open the way to more “gas possibilities, possibilities for Libyan oil, which is of the best quality.”
Qaddafi received Berlusconi under a big tent in Benghazi, where they exchanged gifts and discussed the agreement over lunch. The Italian leader said that part of the package would be for infrastructure projects over the next 25 years, including a coastal highway stretching across the country from Tunisia to Egypt.
Berlusconi’s office said in a statement that the prime minister would hand over to Qaddafi the Venus of Cyrene, an ancient Roman statue taken in 1913 by Italian troops from the ruins of the Greek and Roman settlement of Cyrene, on the Libyan coast.
It has taken years of negotiations for the two sides to reach a deal on compensation for Italy’s rule over Libya from 1911 to 1943. The compensation package will also finance a project to clear mines that were planted in the colonial era.