Unofficial Reports Of Italy’s Coast Guard Mistakenly Shot At By Libya’s Counterpart Apparently Gets Some Credit

(Picture: an Italian Coast Guard’s CP 288, the patrol boat reportedly shot during a search and rescue mission last May 24th. Source: vesseltracker.com, filed picture)

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[May 27th, 2017 – Italy] It’s not been possible to reach the Italian Coast Guard immediately, but it seems that a patrol boat of its was mistakenly shot by a unit of the Libyan counterpart last May 24th, as Italian website GrNet.it, focusing on defence news, reports. While Italian Coast Guard press office has been reported to be “unaware” of the event and no official statement has been published yet, mentioning it – neither on the very May 24th nor the following day – Italian Avvenire adds that “qualified sources consulted in Rome” confirmed what happened.

According to GrNet.it, not mentioning any open source over the news, the Libyan unit would have reportedly contacted the Italian patrol boat CP 288, mentioned by the Italian Coast Guard’s May 24th official statement – released the following day – as joining a rescue operation of 1800 migrants in the Central Mediterranean along with other two boats of the same body, a ship of the Italian navy, some foreign ships part of EUNAVFORMED, some from the ONGs and four civil boats.

As the Italian unit went away, the Libyan counterpart reportedly shot at it – leaving no one wounded – but then realized the mistake and apologized with the port authority: they – it is read – reportedly “confused the Italian unit with a boat of migrants”. This last detail, stressed also by Avvenire‘s article, has been openly mentioned by the Italian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Giro, who shared the latter piece on Twitter and then wrote that nor the migrants nor “our patrol ships” should be shot at; somehow, apparently confirming the news once more as reliable.

Italy has been training the Western Libya’s Coast Guard for long in the framework of the naval EU mission EUNAVFORMED and has provided four guard ships up to now promising to reach the number of ten within June 2017, in order to let this Coast Guard to become the strongest in North Africa, as the Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti has recently stated while visiting Tripoli. Also the local police is trained by Italy’s Carabinieri, Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said, but details of this last training are less known, as of now.

[Read about the boats Italy handed over being delivered to Tripoli and the Italian IM Marco Minniti’s May visit to Tripoli on Between Libya and Italy]

Anyway, the training is most likely focused on patrolling the Northern and Southern borders, so that the illegal flows of migrants eventually reaching Italy can be stopped from both entering and finding a way out of Libya. That’s why Interior Ministers of Italy, Libya, Chad and Niger have recently met in Rome agreeing to set up camps for migrants in and out of Libya. How much the existing camps in Libya and the future camps in and out of the Country will met the international human rights standards is a very divisive and sensitive issue; as of now, UNHCR stressed they met very few and, at the contrary, the Libyan existing ones are in despicable conditions.

[Read about Libya, Italy, Chad and Niger’s Interior Minister meeting in Rome about migrants and Libya’s Southern border on Between Libya and Italy]

The Libyan Ambassador to Italy Ahmed Safar admitted last April that the Libyan Coast Guard is not always respecting migrants’ rights and the reported event of the shooting, as the Libyan unit reportedly shot confusing the Italian patrol boat with one filled with migrants, could once more rise concerns over that.

Western Libya’s seas are not the only ones where occasional problems could rise between Libya and Italy, as differently originated problems have risen also off Benghazi and Derna’s coasts. In the very month of May, also a fishing boat from Mazara Del Vallo, Sicily, had some problems with the Libyan Coast Guard, this time the Eastern one, being sized and freed in a couple of days, while another fishing vessel had been earlier shot by unknown armed men. Back then, Mazara fishing district’s president Giovanni Tumbiolo labelled such longstanding problems between the Libyan Coast Guard and the Italian fishing boats – dating back to the Gaddafi era – as “the war of fish”.

[Read about the Eastern Libya’s Coast Guard seizing an Italian fishing boat on Between Libya and Italy]

Libya, Italy, Chad And Niger Agree Four Points Over Camps For Migrants And Borders During A Meeting In Rome

(Picture: From the right, Interior Ministers of Italy Marco Minniti, of Libya Aref Khoja, of Chad Mohamed Bazoum and of Niger Ahmat Mahamat Bachir in Rome on May 21st. Source: Italy’s Interior Ministery).

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[May 24th, 2017 – Italy] Interior Ministers of Italy, Libya, Chad and Niger met in Rome last May 21st over migrants and Libya’s Southern border.

According to the official statement of the meeting the Ministers agreed on four points:

  1. “Jointly cooperating on fighting terrorism and traffic of human beings in order to grant the safety of the borders.

  2. Supporting formation and reinforcement of the border guards through the formation of a contact network among the forces controlling the borders.

  3. Supporting both the creation, in Niger and Chad, and the management, in Libya, of centres for irregular migrants according to the international human standards.

  4. Promoting the development of a legal economy in alternative to the one linked to the illicit traffics, particularly to the traffic of human beings”.

A joint room to be periodically updated has been form to pursue these goals, while officially unconfirmed press reports say attention will be paid to Ghat, Sabham, Murzuq, Jufra Libya’s areas.

[Read about Italy rejecting press reports about a military mission to Niger to train the border guards]

The meeting comes at a time when Italy has officially rejected rumors of a military mission to train guards at the Southern border of Libya with Niger, while Italy’s Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti has stated Carabinieri is training Libya’s local police without providing any further details. For sure, Italy is training West Libya’s Coast Guard and providing it with naval means in order to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean. It seems that Italy’s focus on the Southern border aims to stop the migrants trying to enter Libya from the South as well as the ones leaving the Country from the North.

[Read about Italy’s Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti stating Carabinieri is training Libya’s local police forces]

Nontheless, violence in Libya’s South has recently excalated after the 13th Battalion – Human Rights Watch described as an alliance between Misrata’s Third Force, the Benghazi Defence Brigades and some other smaller armed groups – attacked LNA’s 12th Brigade in the Brak al Shati base last May 18th, resulting in a still unclear, but probably huge, number of dead. The Battalion is also accused of extrajudicial killings as some people in the base appear to have been executed rather than killed in clashes. That has coused some problems to the UN backed Tripoli’s government as the armed coalition falls under the Defence Ministery’s command: this one, however, denies any involvement. As a retailiation to the action, LNA bombed Jufra district and 12th Brigade seized some parts of Sebha’s city.

A meeting between the tribes of Fezzan was held in Rome last March 31st, again hosted by the Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti.

Italy’s Carabinieri Is Training Libya’s Local Police Forces, Minister Of Defence Roberta Pinotti Says.

(Picture: An Italian Carabiniere while training Libyan forces in Tripoli in 2014. Source: Italy’s Minister of Defence).

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[May 22nd, 2017 – Italy] Carabinieri is training “Libyan local Police forces like in Somalia”, Italy’s Minister of Defence Roberta Pinotti said on May 20th while interviewed by La Stampa‘s Filippo Femia, adding that

“in case of further need, our armed forces can be involved in other training missions in the Countries of origins of the migrants’ flows”.

It’s not the first time Italy’s Carabinieri trains Libyan forces, as it already did it in 2014 before the current war broke out in May that year. Back then, 31 Libyan units ended their training in March in Tripoli over patrol activities, ambushes and treatment of wounded.

Italy’s Carabinieri are often used in mission abroad in UN, NATO, EU or bilateral frameworks, their very first mission dating back to 1855, even before the then Italian Kingdom was formed. Its official website reads:

“Abroad, Carabinieri exclusively works as Military Police in support of the national contingents deployed and grants security for the Italian diplomatic embassies; internationally, they have a first level role in the range of the activities of the Stability Police, including respect and supervision of the human rights, training, consultation and assistance of the local Police forces, where not existing or collapsed, and the law enforcement”.

Specific goals of the training are: public order management, prevention and law enforcement on public security, intelligence, counterterrorism, search and capture of war criminals, environment and cultural goods’ safety.

In Libya Carabinieri is already on the ground in support of the Italian mission in Misrata “Hyppocrates”, in order to provide “a structure of Military Police and specialized medical and paramedic personnel”, the website states, while it also joins EU mission EUNAVFORMED in the Mediterranean, headquartered in Rome.

Minister Pinotti’s statement comes as press reports on an Italian training mission for the Southern Libya’s border – reportedly due to be set in Niger and labelled as “Deserto Rosso” (“Red Desert”) – have been officially rejected by both her very Ministery and Foreign Ministery’s Deputy Mario Giro.

[Read about the reported Italian mission “Red Desert”, rejected by the Italian government, on Between Libya and Italy]

Yet, Italian Embassy’s official Twitter account then shared a quotation by Interior Minister Marco Minniti about the need of securing the Southern border; a possible sign that Italy is closely looking at that area despite the rejection of the reports about a military mission. Several meeting occurred in Rome over the Southern issue and its relations with the illegal flows of migrants, with Fezzan’s tribal representatives last March and with Interior Ministers from Libya, Niger and Chad on May 21st.

Italy’s interest for the area is mainly due to the need of curbing the illegal flows of migrants coming from Niger and is closely linked with the training of the Western Libya’s Coast Guard as the migrants eventually try to cross the Mediterranean and reach Italy or, however, the EU.

Italy’s Defence Minister also said while interviewed:

“Any decision must be taken in the respect of the Libyan sovereignity and in coordination with the government. Serraj is gradually focusing needed measures for requests of help, we are ready for any case. EU should send Libya more funds to patrol its coasts”.

She, however, provided no details on where Carabinieri is training Libya’s forces or who exactly these forces are.

While Italy’s Defence Ministery Denies Reports Of Any Operative Training Mission On Libya’s South, Tripoli’s Coast Guard Is Further Reinforced

(Picture: One of the four guard ships delivered to Western Libya’s Coast Guard on May 15th. Source: Italian Embassy to Libya on Twitter).

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[May 17th, 2017 – Italy] On May 17th Italian Ministery of Defence rejected with an official statement what Italian press had claimed the same day, thus Italy would be sending military units to Niger in order to start training personnel from the tribes guarding the Southern border of Libya:

“It must be recalled that no operative hypothesis exists over that. Simulation and pianification of such actions are framed in the normal traininig activities of the Chief of Staffs and is related to the main crisis areas”

statement reads. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Giro also denied the reports.

According to a summary Il Giornale provided on the internet from a Repubblica‘s printed article, government would have planned to deploy about 500 units with an unknown number of vehicles in an operation called Deserto Rosso (Red Desert): due to the fragile security situation in Libya, units would be deployed in Medina, Niger.

Even though government denied these reports, it’s undeniable that stopping the illegal flows of migrants is one of the main reasons for Italy following so closely the Libyan scenario. On March 31st, 2017, an agreement Fezzan’s tribes reached in Rome forsaw also the deployment of a guard along the Southern border of Libya and, more recently, German press revealed that the Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti and his German counterpart Thomas De Maizière urged EU to send a mission on the Libyan border with Niger.

Nor the training of the Libyan troops would be anything new for Italy, as it’s been training the Coast Guard of the Western Libya for long within the EU mission EUNAVFORMED Sophia.

Illegal migration and the Coast Guard were the main issue of Interior Minister Minniti’ visit to Tripoli last May 15th, few days after his collegue Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano.

Four guard ships have been handed over on the occasion: the two already delivered in Gaeta, Italy, with other two more. Minniti said that 10 guard ships are planned to be delivered within June, in order to make the Coast Guard of the Western Libya “the strongest in the Northern Africa”, official statement reads.

[Read about the first two guard ships handed over in Gaeta, Italy, on Between Libya and Italy]

Minniti has been quoted by Reuters as pointing out the two main tasks of the Western Coast Guard that way, during the visit: the control of the Libyan national waters and “contribute with other European countries and Italy to the security of the central Mediterranean, with a capacity to intervene against human traffickers and with preventative action against terrorism”.

Yet, Reuters adds, “Libyan officials say they need far more equipment than the vessels being delivered by Italy, none of which is new”AFP details that “a Libyan naval officer told the vessels had been due for delivery in 2014, but this date was pushed back because of violence and instability in the North African country”.

Defence Web reports that “in 2009 Italy donated six Bigliani class patrol boats to Libya to monitor its 1.770 km Mediterranean coastline. Two subsequently broke down and became unserviceable and four were sent back to Italy for maintenance in 2012 and were not returned as Italy did not recognise the Tripoli government”.

The specialized website also suggests that the guard ships have been deprived of their own weapons before being delivered, as “it appears the Libyan vessels are MV85 models, powered by two MTU diesel engines. They are normally fitted with a 30 mm or 12.7 mm gun but the gun turrets on the Libyan boats appear to have been removed. Each vessel is fitted with a small boat at the back”.

Stressing Western and Eastern Libya’s Coast Guards as separate is due given that, although the Italian officials generally refer to “the Libyan Coast Guard” as a whole, in practice Italy is providing help just to Tripoli, while occasional frictions happen in the East with Italian fishing boats seized or shot off the Libyan coasts, especially off Benghazi and Derna. In the latest case, just on May 14th vessel Ghibli Primo from Mazara Del Vallo’s fishing district, Sicily, had been seized from the Eastern Libyan Coast Guard for investigations and consequently harboured for a couple of days in Ras al Hilal. On May 16th the vessel has been released with the undetailed mediation of the Italian Foreign Ministery. The episode could stress that relationship between Italy and Eastern Libya’s Coast Guard might still be on its beginning: even though contacts are possible, a lack of full coordination still appears to be the case.

[Read about the case of the Italian fishing boat Ghibli Primo seized by the Eastern Libya’s Coast Guard in May 2017 on Between Libya and Italy]

 

UPDATED on May 24th with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mario Giro’s statement.

Eastern Libya’s Coast Guard Seizing Italy’s Fishing Boat Highlights Difficulties Sicily’s Mazara Del Vallo Is Going Through For Long

(Picture: Sicilian fishing boat Ghibli Primo, seized by the Eastern Libya’s Coast Guard last May 14th, 2017. Source: Distretto Pesca Crescita Blu).

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[May 16th, 2017 – Italy] An Italian fishing boat belonging to the fishing district of Mazara Del Vallo, Sicily, was seized along with a Greek one last May 14th by the Eastern Libyan Coast Guard and taken to the port of Ras Al Hilal for investigation, as the Libyan representatives claimed.

At first, it was not immediately clear which group had seized the vessel – which name is Ghibli Primo – so that the district’s president Giovanni Tumbiolo stated that it happened in an “unusual way” and that Tobruk was “unaware” of the event.

At the time of writing the crew is reported to be well and to be waiting on board to be freed, probably after a fine is communicated. Vessel’s shipowner Domenico Azaro stated to the Sicilian press that a high fine could cause financial problems and that he is “at the heel of bankruptcy”.

Even though details are not known, president Tumbiolo said that the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and, particularly, undersecretary Vincenzo Amendola have been alerted and contacts are ongoing.

Ghibli Primo is not the first Italian fishing vessel to be seized by the Libyan Coast Guard at all, the first cases dating back to the Gaddafi era. Yet, after 2011 the lack of security in the Country made them even still fearsome; at a point that local youth tends to avoid this traditional job as never before, Azaro states, and the local fishing activities could be consequently badly damaged.

Azaro says that fishing the red shrimp requires waters at least 700 metres deep, but an unsolved years longstanding contentious between Libya and the international community on the Libyan national waters lead Libyan authorities to consider national waters what Italy and the Italian fishermen consider otherwise.

Libya Observer, usually very critical to the Eastern authorities, quoted the Chief of Tobruk’s naval base, Naji Bu Aliwiya, saying that “we [the Eastern Libyans] are the ones who intercepted an Italian and a Greek trawlers on Sunday dawn as they entered the “no-go area” that extends from Al Hiniya and Ras Al Tinneen to Derna and Ras Al Hilal in eastern Libya”.

This is the first vessel to be seized in 2017, another one being shot at last January again off the Eastern Libya’s coasts. Back then, president Tumbiolo wrote to the Italian government calling for “concrete initiatives to grant the safety of our fishermen”, but the very last event seems to highlight that something more should be done over that, yet.

Italy is in very good relations with the Government of National Agreement (GNA) in Tripoli, that very little can do, yet, over matters concerning the Eastern Libya it does not control at all. Italy’s training of the Western Libya’s Coast Guard results unhelpful when it is the Eastern counterpart to seize the vessels, as it’s happened up to now in 2017, so that just diplomacy is left to do something. But Italy has no equally strong ties with the Eastern Libya’s authorities, despite something has moved on recently with the first public visit of the Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone and the medical threatment in Rome of a dozen wounded from the Libyan National Army (LNA).

[Read about Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone visiting Eastern Libya and wounded Eastern Libyans taken to Italy for medical treatment on Between Libya and Italy]

Despite the illegal migration is what is properly making the Mediterranean something like a stepping stone of the Italian activism in Western Libya in these very last times, the seizing of the Italian fishing vessels is likely to be another – less known and probably less aknowledged – issue causing severe concerns in the Southern part of Sicily.

Lots of national and international missions are petrolling the central Mediterranean off the Libyan coasts tasked with security: the Italian Mare Sicuro (Open Sea), the European EUNAVFORMED Sophia and NATO’s Sea Guardian. For the first time at the beginning of May, EUNAVFORMED fullfilled a task United Nations had provided back in 2016 by seizing a vessel flying a Libyan flag and carrying weapons, but events like the one of the Ghibli Primo make clear that other kind of critical situations are remaining untouched despite this huge military presence.

UPDATING (May 16th, 2017): Vessel Ghibli Primo has been released two days after it was seized, on May 16th. Minister of Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano announced it on Twitter, while Sicily’s Assessor of Agricolture and Mediterranean Fishing Antonello Cracolici told the same on Facebook.

President of Mazara’s Fishing District Giovanni Tumbiolo and the shipowner Domenico Azaro officially thanked Alfano, Cracolici, Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone and the Italian Navy, along with “the military Libyan authorities which made a gesture of deep friendship and brotherhood to the Sicilian people”.

“Nontheless – Tumbiolo added in a second official statement – it would be bad to underestimate the event, forgetting this is a war everyone talk about just in such circumstances. It would be a guilty irresponsible act by the regional, national and community institutions not to activate suddenly all the available and needed cooperation means in order to put an end, together, to a war the very high cost of which has been supported by the Sicilian maritime community”.

The “war” Tumbiolo is likely referring to is the one he’d already labelled as “the war of fish” in similar past circumstancies, itself related to the longstanding issue of the Libyan national waters.

Abdel Salam Kajman Prizes Rome Tribal Agreement’s Model And Says Italy Is Ready To Help Libya’s South With Trainings And Field Hospitals

(Picture: Presidential Council’s Deputy President Abdel Salam Kajman. Source: Libyan Express).

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[May 14th, 2017 – Italy] On May 13th, 2017, Corriere della Sera released an interview to Presidential Council’s Abdel Salam Kajman by journalist Paolo Valentino. Kajman was in Rome to follow up the agreement signed in Rome with some of the main Southern Libya’s tribes on March 31st, 2017. He showed this agreement as a model and of wider agreement in contrast with a possible agreement between Serraj and Hafter he apparently deem as a personal and less inclusive one; then he said about the help Italy and the international community are providing, anticipating some further action of the earlier in Libya.

Here below, the unofficial translation into English of the interview.

 

“While we’re talking, group of migrants are surely reaching the Italian coasts, but this will not come to an end until we don’t find an agreement on the means to have steady and safe borders in Libya’s South. If we’ll have a full collaboration, I think we can do it. Italians want our Coast Guard to stop the boats, but we must work together. And if we won’t solve problems in Southern Libya, we won’t solve the migrants’ issue either”.

Abdel Salam Kajman is the Deputy President of the Government of National Agreement (GNA) lead by Fayez Serraj. He’s in Rome to follow up the agreement signed weeks ago with the Italian government to curb the illegal migration and the trafficks of drugs, human beings, weapons; but also to support the development of Libya’s Southern region. He receives me in the garden of a Roman villa holding the Ara Pacis Initiative, a non profit organization promoting reconciliation and peace in areas out of fightings and civil wars.

“Situation in the Southern border is dramatic – Kajman says – energies and resources must focus on that area. We talked about it with the Interior Minister [Marco] Minniti. We’re ready to form a new border guard, while the Italian government is ready to form and train the personnel petrolling the whole border. Unfortunately, the difficult economical situation lead many youth to work for the traffickers”.

The pressure of migration as a criminal, economical, opportunity?

Unfortunately yes. And the only way to cut this insane link is to create opportunities for regular jobs. The reconciliation agreement between two main Southern tribes, Tebus and Tuaregs, signed here in Rome, is having the first positive outcomes on the ground. Armed clashes have been partially suspended. A new reconciliatory language is making its way. And that will surely ease the contrast to the illegal migration. Yet, safety and economical development are two sides of the same coin. Anyway Libya is just a Country for the transit, also the African Countries of origin must take their own responsabilities, but this can be just by the help of the international community.

Also the internal situation of Libya don’t move further. The recent meeting between President Serraj and General Hafter, head of the Eastern militias, produced contrasting reactions, some balances apparently fell through. Some members of the Presidential Council, you too are part of, are figuring the risk of a new spiral of violence.

Serraj went to Abu Dhabi’s meeting just personally, Presidential Council being informed just as he came back. He explained us Hafter’s initiative, forseeing a new Council made out of only three: Hafter, Serraj and the Parliament’s president Ageela Saleh. I thanked Serraj, being sure of his good faith; yet, Hafter is not the only one in Libya. We want Serraj to contact also other players, such as Zintan’s Military Council and the Western militias, in order to explain them Hafter’s positions. The political dialogue in Libya must involve everyone. Unfortunately media showed the meeting as an agreement but it was not that way. In the last days we’ve seen a wide rejection of the Serraj-Hafter meeting.

Which model must be pursued?

The one experimented with the pact between the tribes of Fezzan, international community must support that kind of initiatives. We appreciate the support Italy is providing to Serraj, yet we call on EU and the international community to openly support these initiatives: resources and actions. Unfortunately we’ve seen few concrete things; instead, now facts must follow promises. We assert we want to do our part, but we won’t beg. Libya has resources, yet it needs of know-how, knowledge, administrative experience.

Could you provide any example? What should the international community do more concretely?

I’ve already told about it to Minister Minniti. For instance, there is a Turkish donation of 20 tons of medicines, but the deal now is to send and deliver them to Libya’s South. Minniti told us Italy is ready to send mobile field hospitals, yet the help from both other Countries and EU is needed. Situation is critical, we’re at the eve of summer, the toll of migrants is likely to grow, electrical black out, lack of money are a risk in wide areas of the Country. Our government can’t face these emergencies alone and that’s why I call on the international community. We’ve made our part in the war on terrorism, we had our dead and wounded. Now Libya can’t be left alone.

Italy Is Not Part Of Fayez Serraj – Khalifa Hafter Initiative, Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone Says: Libya’s “Dialogue Can’t Be Confined To Only Two Personalities”.

(Picture: Italian Ambassador to Libya Giuseppe Perrone, in Tripoli since January 2017. Source: AGI).

by Alessandro Pagano Dritto (Twitter: @paganodritto)

[May 13th, 2017 – Italy] On May 12th, 2017, the Italian newspaper Il Mattino released an interview by journalist Valentino Di Giacomo to the Italian Ambassador to Libya Giuseppe Perrone. Illegal migration from Libya to Italy and the possible agreement between Fayez Serraj and Khalifa Hafter have been discussed.

On this very last issue, Ambassador Perrone makes clear Italy has no part in the meetings – Abu Dhabi, maybe Cairo – and higlights a ristrictive interpretation of any agreement might lead to other violence.

Here below, the unofficial translation into English of the interview.

“They are hours of crucial meetings for Libya’s future and the Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Perrone is following all of their developments from his office in Tripoli. Yesterday he chaired the shared committee for the war on illegal migration between Italy and Libya. “A meeting – the Ambassador says – in which we discussed all the initiatives in support of the cooperation between our two Countries to curb the traffics. Activities have already kicked off and we made the point on the progress of the programme, an operative meeting”.

A meeting hold after a huge debate has been in Italy fo weeks about the Libyan file, the NGOs’ activities and Tripoli’s lack of border control.

Naturally, echoes of these debates have come up to here and they’ve been commented day by day. We all know Libyan institutions have some difficulties over contrast and that’s why we are here helping them. Yet, we have to say this matter is not – it can’t be – up to Libyans alone, but a joint effort by Italy, all the Mediterranean Countries and Europe is needed. I think it’s clearly unfair just focusing on the Libyan role.

An inquiry of us showed as mechanisms of corruption do exist between the Libyan coast guards and the traffickers; evidencies migrants themselves told Trapani’s attorney investigating these events. What action can be pursued?

I can’t comment on this specific issue. I just can say that the political stabilization of the Country can take advantage to all, also over that; yet, sovereignity belongs just to Libya and we just can try to help in order to create all the conditions needed for stability.

Last Wednesday an action by the Libyan Coast Guard saved 500 migrants and took them back to the coast. Is this the way to walk?

It’s been an important action and Libyans have been really good in carrying it out because clashes with the traffickers occourred too. Already from the next week Italy will provide Libya with other guard ships in order to keep up this actions of contrast. I’ve had the opportunity to urge Libyans to go on with this kind of operations, but the control of the disembarkations is just a piece in a wider mosaic. Both Italy and Europe will help to the Country also in order to build and run the migrants’ centres, as a traffick like never before is going through Libya at the moment.

The Southern border with Niger is the most interested over crossings.

We’re trying to intervene there too, indeed, in order the Libyans to be able to guard the whole Southern part, but it’s clear that efforts from Italy and Europe are needed in order to achieve that. We’re walking a step by step road producing its results soon.

A joint petrol of the coasts by both the Libyans and the Italians would be helpful?

We’re adhering to the requests of the Libyan government, at the moment, in order to collaborating; we’ll consider this proposal if they’ll advance it.

Why are almost all of the departures from the Western part controlled by Serraj and not from the Hafter’s Eastern one?

For sure there is a geographical reason, also because that route makes that area more confortable to use. Then, there is clearly a reason of lack of control from the legitimate authorities in several parts of the territory, that does not help controlling it.

A new meeting between Serraj and Hafter is expected in Egypt next week. Could an understanding be reached by handing over the army to the General as he himself demanded to?

We’re not in this initiative. What’s crucial is that the reunification of the national armed forces should happen under an only one political authority. But this dialogue can’t be confined to only two personalities.

Would Serraj be strong enough to bear an agreement with Hafter?

That’s crucial: any agreement must not remain a dead letter, so that all the players must be involved, above all in Tripolitania. The huge risk is that an opposition, even violent, could follow the agreement, definitively destabilizing the Country.

Minister Alfano paid an unexpected visit to Tripoli few days ago. It was just a formal meeting?

Minister’s visit has been very important because it happened in a sensitive time and let Italy to reaffirm its own centrality in the ongoing dialogue between the players on the ground. Alfano made it clear that the understanding can’t be interpreted in a restrictive way, yet it must reassure all the parties concerned.

Statements from the Minister of Foreign Affairs Siala, already reportedly recognizing Hafter as the head of the armed forces, are under the lights in Libya at the moment. The Ministery’s headquarters have been shut down for days due to protests. A bad sign?

True, situation is delicate and I don’t know what impact it will have. Hopefully, the controversy will be reapprised”.