- By Patrick FitzgeraldPatrick Fitzgerald is a researcher at Foreign Policy.
Silvio Burlusconi’s appearance with Libyan leader Muammar el-Qaddafi over the weekend seemed to be a historic first: the Italian prime minister formally apologized and agreed to offer financial compensation for decades of colonial occupation. An elaborate ceremony — complete with the repatriation of an ancient statue of Venus that had been relocated to Rome — marked the signing of a “friendship and cooperation agreement” between the two countries.
Yet it wasn’t a completely altruistic measure for the Italians, who stand to benefit from their “reparations” to the former colony:
“We have written a page in history. Now we will have fewer illegal immigrants leaving from the coast of Libya and coming to us, and more Libyan oil and gas,” declared Mr Berlusconi, according to Italian reports
Indeed, the $5 billion Italy will pay in annual installments of $200 million will largely come in the form of investments in Libyan infrastructure. While the agreement marks the first time a former colonial power offered compensation to an Arab country, special economic ties between former colonies and mother countries are, of course, nothing new.
The question now is whether Italy will follow suit with its other, less resource-rich, former colonies like Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at email@example.com.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |