Italy denies plans to establish military base in southern Libya

Matteo Salvini
Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League.

Italian Ambassador to Libya, Giuseppe Perrone, on Saturday denied that Italy is planning to establish a military base in southern Libya.

“Rumors of Italy establishing a military base in Libya’s South are simply fake news,” Perrone tweeted earlier.

Italian Interior Ministry leads EU program to strengthen Libya’s sovereignty and border guards’ capacity to fight human traffickers, Perrone added.

The Libyan eastern-based army on Friday warned against the proposed establishment of foreign military presence in southern Libya over illegal immigration.

The army, led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar, said it considers the move “a clear violation of the international law and a blatant aggression on the Libyan sovereignty.”

The warning comes days after Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini proposed to Libya’s UN-backed government to establish reception centers for illegal immigrants in southern Libya.

The Libyan government said it has rejected such proposal.

Due to the insecurity and chaos that followed the 2011 uprising, Libya has become a departure point for illegal immigrants across the Mediterranean toward Italian shores.

Italy closed its ports earlier in June and refused to receive a ship belonging to an international organization that rescued 600 illegal immigrants in the Mediterranean.

Spain agreed to receive the ship after intensive international contacts.

Italy’s refusal is the first of its kind, which observers consider an indication of Italy’s likelihood to give up its international commitments on migrant issue.