Feb 23, 2011
Berlusconi’s `Slavish’ Courtship of Qaddafi Haunts Italy
By Flavia Krause-Jackson
Berlusconi shut down the city’s biggest park in June 2009 to allow the visiting Libyan leader and his entourage of all- female bodyguards to set up camp by the 16th-century Villa Doria Pamphili. A year earlier, Italy agreed to pay $5 billion over 25 years to its former colony in reparations.
“With hindsight, the more slavish manifestations of deference could have been avoided,” Franco Pavoncello, a politics professor at John Cabot University in Rome, said in a telephone interview. “He went out of his way, more than others, to be best friends with Qaddafi. He can’t exactly take it all back now.”
Libya has invested in Italian companies including Fiat SpA, UniCredit SpA and the Juventus soccer team, while Eni SpA has been present in the North African country for half a century, leaving Italy reliant on Libya for a quarter of its crude oil. As his ties with Qaddafi developed, Berlusconi built on that economic legacy, which is now unraveling and underscores the cost of doing business with autocratic regimes.