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LIBYA: Italian Consulate in Benghazi reinstated in former location

By Italy - Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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ROME, Italy, March 28, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Italian Consulate in Benghazi goes back to its former location, a building that was burnt down during the demonstrations on 17 February 2006. “We expect to open between May and June, in a large portion that will house the visa office”, announced Italian Consul Guido De Sanctis, who has been working from temporary lodgings in the city of Cirenaica. “It will be the only one of an EU member”, he added in an interview with ANSA, “along with that of Malta”.

The reconstruction of the two-storey building began in January and, as soon as it is stable, a part of the ground floor will be open to the public (with disabled accessible as well) for the issuance of visas: “In 2005, in the city of Benghazi alone, we were issuing approximately 2500 visas annually, but if other Schengen countries ask for it, we could issue up to 5000”. Also expected for early June is a doubling of Alitalia flights to Libya, twice-weekly to Benghazi and Tripoli, which should help with exchanges with the gradually reviving eastern part of the country.

“This is the moment for Italian initiatives”, De Sanctis said, and not only from the business standpoint. Among the new Libyan authorities there is “greater awareness of the priorities”. “Libya”, he explained, “is not only rich in oil, but also in manpower; there is a broad request for the education and vocational training of young people in particular who, if left to themselves, could become easy prey to fundamentalism”. A message, De Sanctis added, “that we are sending to Italian firms who have shown sensitivity to this issue”. One year on from the revolt against the regime, and six months from the ouster of Gaddafi, Libya is preparing for its first elections, to be held in June.