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The Berlusconi Government and Intervention in Libya


Rome's approach to the Libyan unrest has been guided by two objectives: to protect the commercial relationship that it has built up with Libya over the past decade, and to prevent a mass exodus of migrants toward Italy. Initially, it was believed that these objectives would be endangered by the intervention advocated by Great Britain and France. By early April, principally because Washington's support for the military mission became clearer, the government's policy changed. Italy secured commitments from the rebel leaders to honour existing agreements and to scale future relations to the level of support they receive. Although Rome's concern about immigration proved to be exaggerated, it was also addressed in late April when France agreed to support a proposed reform of Schengen. Once it concluded that the Qadhafi regime was unlikely to survive, Italy cast aside its earlier caution and joined the NATO-led war.