TRIPOLI, JANUARY 10 – Two years ago, on February 15 2015, the Italian Ambassador Giuseppe Buccino Grimaldi was the last foreign diplomat to leave Tripoli as a coalition of militias seized control of the capital and the so-called “Islamic State” jihadi group established a firmer foothold in the region. Today Giuseppe Perrone, his successor, was the first European to reopen a Western mission in the Libyan capital. Perrone presented its credentials to Prime Minister Fayez Mustafa al Sarraj during an evocative ceremony held in a castle in the historic centre of Tripoli.
Reopening the diplomatic post in the embattled capital is a “political investment” to which Italy has given green light notwithstanding its security concerns. It’s a political message, Perrone told ANSA, the Italian news agency: the sign that Rome considers Tripoli a strategic partner with whom relaunch strong bilateral relations. The announcement came on the heels of Monday’s meeting between Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti and Libyan Prime Minister al-Serraj in Tripoli, in which the two agreed to cooperate on security, the fight against terrorism and human trafficking. “A great gesture of friendship to the Libyan people. Now more controls on migrant departures,” said the Minister for Foreign Affairs Angelino Alfano from New York where he took part to the first UN Security Council open debate of the Italian mandate. Alfano met UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who thanked Italy for its continued support to support to the UN-facilitated political process in Libya.
Italy’s renewed commitment in Libya will be put in practice with a new push towards the stabilization of the country and in the common fight against human smuggling, the Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni said ahead of the ceremony. The Libyan Ambassador in Rome, Ahmed Safar, praised the Italian initiative and expressed his wishes that other capitals will follow Rome’s example. (@OnuItalia)