Libyan crisis set to affect its relationship with Italy

09:16, February 23, 2011      

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The outbreak and violent degeneration of the Libyan crisis is set to trigger in the long term some substantial repercussions on its relations with Italy as more refugees land on Italian shores and Italian residents in Libya are forced to leave for the rise in violence on Tuesday.

Thousands of refugees have so far landed on Italian shores since the outbreak of the North Africa's crises, forcing Rome's government to declare the "state of humanitarian emergency"and call for the European Union (EU)'s help. And more continue to arrive -- on Monday night some 200 immigrants landed in Sicily.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has so far avoided interfering with the Libyan emergency, limiting himself to express preoccupation with the turn of events despite his "privileged friendship" with Gaddafi and the EU-Libya mediation role Berlusconi has always boasted of playing.

The Italian opposition parties, in front of Gaddafi's hard stance and retaliation move, have already called for a parliamentary assembly to discuss the impacts of the Libyan crisis on the two countries' Friendship Treaty.

In the meantime Berlusconi's government plans an emergency evacuation for the 1,500 Italians still living in Libya with the probable use of a military plane while a naval warship, specialized in air defense, left on Tuesday from the southern port of Taranto towards the Libyan coast with the goal of keeping under control the Mediterranean Sea ways.

Bilateral commercial ties will also somewhat suffer from the Libyan crisis. The growing tensions in Libya have already caused Italian oil giant Eni and leading steel industry group Finmeccanica to repatriate most of their personnel with families, while Libyan gas supplies to Italy have been cut since Monday when Libyan workers abandoned the plants.

Talking at a business forum on Tuesday Undesecretary of State Stefano Saglia said Italy faced no immediate gas block "threats" from Libya and could compensate with other supplies, mainly from Russia, yet the situation remained critical due to the " unprecedented civil war going on in the country." In 2010 Libya supplied 11 percent of Italian gas consumption.

Source: Xinhua

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