Libya, Varvelli (Ecfr): “Meloni has no illusions, endemic crisis”

‘Elections only after key passages, difficult to reconcile with the presence of Wagner and Turkish militias’

Libya remains important for Italy, but not as in the past, the new government “is under no illusions, it has understood that the crisis has now become endemic”. Arturo Varvelli, president of the European council on foreign relations (Ecfr) in Rome, speaks of “a rebalancing of Italy’s interest” for the North African country on the eve of Giorgia Meloni’s mission to Tripoli, rather urging the European Union “to put the car on the southern front” after the distraction caused by the Russian war in Ukraine.

“Libya was almost always the place where the first visits of the Italian heads of government took place – underlines Varvelli, speaking with Adnkronos – For the first time we see that this is not the case and indeed Meloni went first to Algeria, important since point of view of energy supplies. The new government has understood that the Libyan crisis is endemic, that the solution is not a little trip by Meloni and the entire Italian institutional apparatus is aware of this. We need to go to Tripoli, but also act on others lands”.

Having said this, the expert says he expects from Italy “true support for the efforts of the United Nations” to develop a new roadmap, while the EU “should get the machine going again on the southern front: it is true that there it’s the conflict in Ukraine, but the world doesn’t end there, energy issues have demonstrated the importance of that region as well, which is why Europe should look with greater interest at stabilizing those areas”.

Varvelli then does not venture predictions on the prospects of a political agreement in Libya: “It seems to me that we are sailing on sight and I have never been a big fan of the elections, which I think should only be held after a series of key steps”. The head of the ECFR deems it essential first to develop a roadmap that “ensures that when the vote comes to the vote, the result is accepted by the loser and that the winner will not establish a dictatorship, which takes place in a controlled context, without violence and abuse “. A context that for now Varvelli does not deem plausible: “All of this is very difficult to reconcile with the presence of Russian militiamen of the Wagner Group or Turkish militias and troops”.

And Moscow’s influence in particular has brought the Americans back into the game, now “more interested in Libya, because they have begun to perceive the relevance of the Russian presence: what would happen if there were an attack on an energy infrastructure in that country What if the Algerians were persuaded by the Russians to cut gas supplies to the West?”

Varvelli no longer even considers the rivalry between Turkey, sponsor of the West, and Egypt, sponsor of the East, a problem: “Ankara and Cairo talk to each other, I don’t think they are the obstacle to an agreement in Libya, as much as the Russian presence, in addition of course to internal issues and interpersonal conflicts”.