Europe & world

Libya: France and Italy battle over reconstruction

26 August 2011
Presseurop
La Stampa

La Stampa, 26 August 2011

The fighting in Tripoli has barely begun to die down,” leads La Stampa, “but the competition between Italy and France is already on”. From the very start of military operations, prepared and conducted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy – with Silvio Berlusconi, as head of the Italian government, lagging behind reluctantly in the name of friendship with the Gaddafi regime – “it was understood that the war against the Colonel would be transformed into a conflict of another kind,” writes the Turin daily.

"An economic war with a new adversary: ​​Italy, of course. While Rome dragged its feet before joining in the operations, Paris – with London bringing up the rear – pressed on the accelerator, dreaming of the carve-up ahead that would see Libya broken up into autonomous provinces and the “oil pie” divvied up between their national champions, Total and BP, which would be hitting the ground running. Now that the uprising is – nearly – over, the second phase of operations can begin: a business worth billions of euros, for rebuilding roads, ports, industrial plants, whole cities. Again it's Paris leading the play, with Rome trotting up behind. The Elysée is setting up a conference to lay the foundations of the new democratic Libya, and it is Paris that the new government leader of Libya, Mahmoud Jibril, visited on Aug. 25, stopping to talk to the Italians only on a stopover in Rome on the way back."