Italy to pay Libya $5b compensation for colonial rule as Berlusconi apologizes

[JURIST] The leaders of Italy and Libya Saturday signed a accord under which Italy pledged to invest $5 billion [press release, in Italian] in Libya as compensation for its colonial rule over the north African state from 1911 to 1943. Meeting with Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi before a crowd which included descendants of Libyan resistance fighters, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi publicly apologized [transcript, in Italian] for his country's conduct, expressing "in the name of the Italian people our regret and apologies for the deep wounds that we have caused you." Under the agreement Libya promised to take action against illegal immigration, which Berlusconi described as a scourge organized by "slave traders". Italy and Libya have been working on a compensation treaty for years. The present agreement does not address claims of repatriated Italians against their own government for losses incidental to the end of colonial rule in Libya. AP has more. AFP has additional coverage.

Libya [JURIST news archive] was part of the Ottoman Empire until 1911, when it was invaded by Italian troops [backgrounder] and occupied. The country formally became an Italian colony in 1934. Italy surrendered control of it to advancing British and French forces in 1943 in the midst of World War II. The modern state of Libya became fully independent with the end of a Franco-British UN-authorized mandate [backgrounder] in 1951.

 

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