Coast guard harassed Italian fishermen 80 kilometres off Tripoli
Around 100 people demonstrated in the northern Italian Veneto region on Monday against the delivery of patrol boats to the so-called coast guard in Libya. The protests took place in front of the shipyard of the shipbuilding company Cantiere Navale Vittoria in the small town of Adria. There, Italy’s Foreign Minister, his Libyan counterpart and the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy had gathered for a handover ceremony. The first of a total of five new boats was officially given to Libya.
The boats are financed through the Commission’s “Trust Fund for Africa”, from which around €59 million will be spent on border surveillance and strengthening the relevant police and military authorities in Libya. Another €10 million will come from the new “Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument”. The Italian Ministry of the Interior is tasked with the implementation of the measures.
The organisation Mediterranea Saving Humans, which also operates a rescue ship in the central Mediterranean, called for the protests. Various Social Centres from the north-east of Italy were also involved. The police had initially blocked access to the shipyard, but according to reports, the demonstrators were able to overcome the barrier and get close to the politicians.
The government in Rome wants to further strengthen migration defences with Libya. “You give us gas, we give you all the support you need to stop the migration flows,” Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced during a visit to Tripoli at the end of January, probably quoting her predecessor Silvio Berlusconi.
However, the Libyan units have shown little gratitude. On 3 February, a few days after the visit of the far-right Meloni, four Italian fishing boats were reportedly harassed by a Libyan patrol boat some 80 nautical miles north of Tripoli. According to the fishermen, they should have been brought to Tripoli. After an Italian navy helicopter appeared over the area, the patrol boat turned away.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Olivér Várhelyi with Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and his counterpart from Libya, Najila El Mangoush, at the ceremony in Adria (Olivér Várhelyi/ Twitter).