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Libya: “Short-term outcome is impossible”

Europe/Middle East - Africa di

Italian cemetery profanation in Tripoli and supposed Libyan territorial waters violation from Italian ships. This November, diplomatic relations between Italy and Libya have risked to break off. For these issues, European Affairs interviewed Dr. Giovanna Ortu, President of Association of Italians Repatriated from Libya, expelled by Gaddafi, along with other 20 thousand compatriots, in 1970.

Dr. Ortu, after Italian cemetery profanation, what was the position taken by the Italian Government? Did you receive support?

“I went to the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Mario Giro, with whom I had already scheduled an appointment before it happened this episode: he was very helpful, but also worried about Libyan context. Meanwhile, there was also UN mediator Bernardino Leon failure. The situation between different factions has become too complicated. In my opinion, this long-time duality between Tripoli and Tobruk increased the infighting: if the agreement was reached before, Gaddafi followers could not reorganize themselves and Islamic State could not take root “.


It is not the first time that the Italian cemetery in Libya was victim of similar actions. The last one was in January 2014. From your viewpoint, are these event advanced by anti-Italian reasons? Otherwise, by political factors?

“In my opinion, they are not advanced by anti-Italian reasons. The criminal acts happened up to 2000, which then led us to restore it in 2004, can be connected to petty crime. Even the incident in January 2014, or other latest ones, are of the same standard. However, I can not judge if the last one is politically motivated. Surely, our association feared for a long time that these desecrations could politically exploit. ”
In your opinion, is recent diplomatic incident between Italy and Libya an international strategy to exclude Rome from the leading role of a possible military action under the aegis of the UN?

“At the moment, there is a big difference between Libyan population feeling and those who speculate on the internal divisions to undermine relations between two countries. I think that agreement signed by Berlusconi and Gaddafi in 2008, in favor of Italy, caused a reaction of other European partners. Indeed, this country has several oil reserves and needed infrastructure works. That treaty had taken a slice too big to other European states. However, I would never have believed that Western countries to embark on a war, as happened in 2011, without having an institutional level, and the postwar economic “.
You know Libyan social context very well: is still possible to create a national unity government? Islamic State is always more rooted: can this organization really reflect Libyan religious context?

“I am very negative about a short-term positive outcome. Even more optimistic analysis made by geopolitical experts was failed. The Libya that I know is of many years ago. However, I’ve had opportunities to go to Tripoli three times. There I met young people were full of feeling but unschooled. However, I found women who worked in institution and with uncovered face. I think that it’s very difficult back to normal after a 40 years dictatorship. So, this weak population has been victim of Daesh propaganda. ”
Giacomo Pratali


Giacomo Pratali
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