Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antonio Tajani confirmed that Nicola Orlando, Italy’s Special Envoy to Libya, will serve as the European Union’s official representative in Tripoli.
The statement was given in response to inquiries in the Senate on Thursday, regarding Orlando’s appointment. This came amidst whispers of an initial reluctance from Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) to approve him. Dismissing these concerns, Tajani characterised the uproar as “much ado about a political tempest in a teapot.”
Earlier in April, the EU’s top diplomat for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell formally announced Orlando would be leading the EU mission in Libya.
Orlando, taking over from Spaniard José Sabadell, is not only Italy’s designated Special Envoy to Libya, but also boasts a distinguished past, having represented Italy as its Ambassador to Kosovo.
Notably, the GNU has yet to publicly disclose the reasons for rejecting Orlando’s appointment. The move is raising questions about the trajectory of diplomatic ties between Libya and the European Union, especially at a time when both entities are navigating a complex geopolitical landscape.
Sabadell announced the end of his three-year mission in the country, saying that he had observed significant security improvements in Libya, although the country still lacks political consensus among its stakeholders.
Last month, Sabadell took to his Twitter account to announce, “I am concluding my mission today. It has been an extraordinary honor to serve here. Particularly, I am pleased that the full European mission has returned to Tripoli, and we have been operating at full capacity for more than two years now. This has facilitated close engagement with Libyan stakeholders, supporting the ongoing political process, and contributing to improving living conditions for the Libyans.”
The EU has played a critical role in stabilising the region, and supporting the Libyan government in implementing democracy and maintaining security. As the European mission continues, the focus will likely shift towards building a political consensus among the various factions, to secure a stable and prosperous future for the country.