BENGHAZI, Libya – Italy agreed Saturday to pay Libya $5 billion as compensation for its 30-year occupation of the country, which ended in 1943.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi signed a memorandum pledging a $5 billion compensation package involving construction projects, student grants and pensions for Libyan soldiers who served with the Italians during 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 told reporters at the airport on his arrival. “This agreement opens the path to further cooperation.”
In return, Italy wants Libya to crack down on the thousands of illegal migrants smuggled across the Mediterranean to Italian shores. Libya largely hasn’t delivered on pledges to eliminate the problem.
Italy will fund $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 told reporters in Libya in comments carried on Italian state TV.
Rome is also keen on increasing its already long-consolidated energy ties with Tripoli. Libya is a big supplier of natural gas and oil to Italy.