High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell held a phone call with the President of Colombia Iván Duque Márquez on Friday evening.
They discussed the situation in the country and possible support of the European Union in overcoming the current crisis. The High Representative expressed EU’s solidarity with Colombia in the face of the current challenges, stemming from a multitude of grievances among the population. These grievances have been aggravated by the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which exacerbated poverty among the population up to 42%. He commended the measures taken by the authorities to concede Venezuelan refugees a status of protection in the country, in view of the pandemic.
The High Representative stressed the importance of respecting and protecting human rights, including the right to peaceful protest. He reiterated his concerns regarding the excessive use of violence and called for all related incidents to be investigated. He regretted that prolonged roadblocks were preventing the provision of basic supplies to the population and having a negative impact on the country. He also called for restraint, and respect for human rights by the authorities, when dealing with these blockades.
The High Representative encouraged the President to find a solution to overcome the current crisis via dialogue and negotiations, as well as through an inclusive agenda for the youth. He stressed that such dialogue should lead to the identification and implementation of concrete actions and should help foster reconciliation. He welcomed in this regard the initiatives launched by the Government to engage with all stakeholders, particularly with the youth. He valued the President’s intention to hold those responsible accountable for the abuses and violations that had occurred.
Finally, the High Representative pointed to the importance the EU attaches to Colombia’s political stability, as a crisis could affect the entire region. In this regard, he reiterated the EU’s readiness to cooperate and offered the EU’s support, including his personal commitment, in defusing tensions, building confidence and promoting inclusive dialogue.