It is possible to develop a “functional” collaboration between Italy and Turkey in the context of combating irregular migratory flows starting from Libya. He told it to “Agenzia Nova” Valeria Giannotta, scientific director of the Turkey Observatory of the Center for International Political Studies (Cespi), on the day in which the Turkish Foreign Minister, Hakan Fida, visited Tripoli for the first time since taking over as Ankara’s head of diplomacy in June 2023. According to Giannotta, the Turkish military presence in Libya, guaranteed by a memorandum signed between Tripoli and Ankara in 2019, it can be an added value in the fight against irregular immigration. And from the perspective of the Mattei Plan developed by the Italian government to develop a new partnership with the countries of the African continent, as the Cespi expert observed, Turkey “takes on the role of privileged interlocutor”.
“Italy and Türkiye can adopt a win-win approach. The cooperation between the two countries, if managed well, will bear fruit”, said the Cespi expert, also recalling the visit to Istanbul in January by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who discussed with the Turkish head of state, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, precisely the containment of the departures of migrants from Libya. Turkey can boast a strong influence in Tripolitania, where it has two military bases: the air base of Al Watiya, located east of Tripoli and about 27 kilometers from the Tunisian border, and the naval base of Al Khums, halfway between the capital and the “city-state” of Misurata. Not only. Turkish instructors and military advisers trained the 444 Brigade, an armed group known in western Libya for fighting smuggling and organized crime.
Regarding Fidan’s trip to Tripoli, Giannotta explained that it must be read not only in the context of strengthening bilateral relations and investments, but also “in a broader perspective”. “There have never been problems of friction between Libya and Türkiye. The North African country can be considered a sort of Turkish protectorate”, highlighted the Cespi expert. In the recent past, however, Libya has been a site of conflict between Turkey and Egypt. As underlined by Giannotta, “for a few years Ankara has launched a foreign policy focused on the normalization of relations”.
After the victory in the presidential elections last May, he added, Erdogan “emphasized this political approach for the development of a country capable of dialogue with everyone and of acting as a regional security hub”. “The Turkish president will travel to Egypt on February 14 with a delegation, for the first time since 2013. The country is one of the players that have interests in the Mediterranean, and therefore also in Libya,” the expert observed. “In this sense, Fidan’s visit also acts as a corollary”, explained Giannotta, also underlining how the recent announcement by the Turkish minister regarding Ankara’s desire to open a consulate in Benghazi, the capital of Cyrenaica, controlled by the commander in head of the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army (LNA), general Khalifa Haftar “This move would further seal Turkey’s presence in Libya and protect the interests of all Turkish companies present in the North African country,” underlined Giannotta.
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