Libyan leader Moammar Gadaffi arrived in Italy on Sunday, a year after his historic trip there to mark closer ties between the two countries and to consolidate the ‘special relationship’ between himself and Silvio Berlusconi.
Colonel Gadaffi arrived with the usual entourage of brightly coloured guards and various aides, as well as the usual “tent” accomodation and no less than thirty horses. Celebrations got off to a characteristiccly colourful start with an opening speech by Gadaffi in front of 500 young Italian women, expressly requested by the Colonel and selected via specialised agencies, in which he encourged them to convert to Islam, a recommendation promptly followed by at least three of the five hundred, it is reported.
The actual meeting with Berlusconi will take place later today, Monday, with the opening of a photographic exhibition followed by a special dinner in the Colonel’s honour.
Although cristicisms arrive from all sides, including Berlusconi’s main ally Lega Nord, Berlusconi is well aware of the importance of the ‘special relationship’ especially in business affairs such as gas supplies to Italy and investments in the construction of a new motorway in Libya itself. Immigration is always a touchy subject in Italy and no less so than with Libya, with which a special anti-illegal immigration taskforce is being set up, partly finded by the EU. Compensation for the Italian citizens expelled from Libya during Ghedaffi’s coup d’etat in 1969 is also on the diplomatic table.
Libya remained an Italian colony from around 1912 to 1943.