Italy’s treaty with Libya may impede cooperation with NATO and EU

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in Rome, August 30, 2010.

From Christopher Emsden, the Wall Street Journal:  As is well known, Italy and Libya signed a Treaty on Friendship in Benghazi in the summer of 2008, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi rolled out the red carpet for [Col. MoammarGadhafi’s visit to Rome last year, even allowing the Libyan leader to openly proselytize a selected set of attractive young Italian hostesses.

But the Treaty has some articles that lawmakers may not have read closely enough. It explicitly forbids Italy from using any military force or trying “directly or indirectly” to interfere with the Libyan government and, importantly, it forbids Italy from, “allowing the use of its territory in any hostile act against Libya.”

So a bilateral treaty prevents Italy from participating in an EU or NATO-backed mission involving Libya.

NATO is mulling possible participation in the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya, but Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen stressed Friday that a United Nations mandate would be needed. …

Natalino Ronzitti, a scholar at Rome’s Institute of International Affairs, suggests that more unusual boilerplate in the Treaty may provide Italy with legal wiggle-room. The Treaty is not a non-aggression pact because it establishes that Libya not act outside of “international legality,” he notes.

That phrase is “unusual” for diplomatic documents, but is repeated in the last provision of the Treaty, Ronzitti notes.  (photo: Getty)

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