European Union External Action

Colombia: building peace and moving forward

31/05/2018 - 13:41
News

"We will be considered heroes around the world but traitors by our own people," said the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, at an event on Colombian peace negotiations and implementations. During this event the EU announced its additional contribution of €15 million to help former combatants of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) reintegrate into the Colombian society.

In the morning of 31 May at BOZAR, 'Conflict Resolution in the 21st Century: The Case of Colombia', a high-profile event took place. It brought together key figures from the Colombian peace negotiations, including Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia. They discussed lessons learnt from the peace negotiations, the state of Colombian economy and the country's development, as well as social reconciliation of people affected by conflict, children in particular.  

In 2016, the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército Popular) signed a peace agreement. The agreement put an end to 52 years of armed conflict, the oldest on-going and one of the most violent armed conflicts in the Americas. The conflict destabilised the country and caused the death of over 200,000 of people and it forced internal displacement of more than 5 million Colombians. Many children were also involved. Signing the peace agreement was a major achievement not only for Colombia, but for Latin America as a whole, as well as the rest of the world.

"I was meeting child soldiers that used to be child soldiers in the conflict and then, after the peace agreement, are now back to school, learning or imagining a family, a job, a social life. I think this is the real reason why this peace process is irreversible: because it benefits the people of Colombia," Mogherini said as she recalled her personal engagement to help Colombian children returning home after the war.

 

The European Union, as well as international community, was very much involved in the peace process negotiations and since then it has been supporting implementation of the peace agreement. The EU appointed an EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process, and at the end of 2016, it launched the EU Trust Fund for Colombia. The Trust Fund supports rebuilding social and economic fabric of the country, and it gives new hope to Colombian citizens, especially in the rural areas, which have been the most affected by the conflict.

 

During the event, High Representative Mogherini stressed the importance of social reconciliation, especially when it comes to "child soldiers, who are now back to school, dreaming about having jobs, families, and a social life." Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia, added that respect, confidence and trust are very important in the process of reconciliation. He also expressed the importance of engagement of the international community in the peacebuilding and spoke on tackling challenges related to drug trafficking. They both pointed out that the building a lasting peace needs development and investment. The Colombian economy needs strengthening, especially in the rural areas, which were hard-hit by the conflict, and the EU supports it through investment, co-ordination of government programmes, and cooperation with European investors and market opportunities. Thanks to this, "Colombia is a country moving forward," concluded Mogherini. 

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