Italy has agreed to pay Libya $5 billion as compensation for its 30-year occupation of the country, which ended in 1943. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy and the Libyan leader, Muammar el-Qaddafi, signed a memorandum pledging a $5 billion compensation package that involves construction projects, student grants and pensions for Libyan soldiers who served with the Italians in World War II.
“It is a material and emotional recognition of the mistakes that our country has done to yours during the colonial era,” Berlusconi said Saturday as he arrived. “This agreement opens the path to further cooperation.”
Rome is also eager to increase its 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.”
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.
Under the thumb of colonial and fascist Italy, thousands of Libyans died. It was only the advance of Allied armies during World War 2 that freed Libya from the domination of the Rome government.
Kind of about time, ain’t it?