Check against delivery!
First of all, I’m really glad to be here. For me this is something special. I was here in my previous capacity for the inauguration of President Santos, but this is my first visit in Colombia in my capacity as the High Representative of the European Union. But this does not mean that this is the first contact with the country.
Actually, Colombia is the Latin America country with which the European Union has had the most frequent exchanges at the highest possible level.
I met 5 times with President Santos in the past year. With minister Holguín, we met many many times.
This is a sign of friendship and a fact that we are really close partners and somehow that Colombia is in our hearts.
We have a very high interest to see the peace process being finalised and we are extremely committed in accompanying and supporting Colombia in the implementation of the post-conflict.
For this, we will sign another important agreement today on some financial support that we will provide.
But I would like to underline the political support. As Europeans, we are together with Colombia in the peace process. We see that Colombia needs to find the peace, to put an end to a conflict that has cost so much to all its citizens: I was thinking that the majority of the citizens of the country were born as this conflict was already ongoing. So this is an opportunity for the country to open up from the conflict and bring peace, but also for the economy; peace brings more jobs, economic and trade possibilities.
We also support this process because the world needs peace in Colombia. This could be the good news of the year, the good news that shows to the world that a conflict that has lasted so long can finish through negotiations and in peace.
Believe me when I tell you that is the news that the world is waiting for. You have a big responsibility on your shoulders. But we also think we have the responsibility to accompany you in these steps. Again, you will have us by your side. Always.
Having said that, we come here not only for the peace. Our work is also on global issues such as trade, and especially focusing on exports from both sides.
There is also something very important that we finalised recently: it is the visa waiver agreement that we signed a few months ago in Brussels and that has allowed, already over the last four months, more than 48,000 Colombian citizens to travel without visa to Europe.
This is a big change and a sign of the results of our strong partnership, that, I am sure will continue.
And by the way, Colombia is also a great partner in the region for the European Union. It is extremely important to maintain our exchange and relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean in the framework of bilateral coordination and to receive information of what is happening in Latin America. We value the role of Colombia in this and as a strong partner.
Q1 on the kidnapping of Spanish journalist
First of all, I would like to say that, for us, this is a case that is extremely important and that we follow very closely. This is not something that only concerns Europeans, but also Colombians and journalists. For us, this is a matter of concern for the safety of the persons but also for the freedom of the press that is a fundamental principle of any democratic society.
We have exchanged on the latest news, not only with María Ángela but also with the vice-minister of Defence. I know the minister of Defence is in these hours on the ground.
So not only do we follow the case, we get information as they come. We have full confidence that the Colombian authorities will do all that they can to solve this case and reach a happy ending.
Question 2 on the Peace process negotiations
HR/VP Mogherini: creo que sí.
I have being following personally the negotiations and dialogues of the process all along this year. I am really confident that we are close to the finalization.
I would like to add a message for the Colombians. I know from a personal experience in other kind of negotiations that the closest we get to the final stance of the negotiations, the hardest it becomes.
But once the agreement is done, that is the moment when the benefits will come.
And, again, I was looking at the number of victims, number of people wounded and number of communities really affected. It is time to put an end to this. Count on all of Europe, we will be with you at all times. This is the right thing to do and it has been done in the right way.
Sometimes we get confused and we think that we need strong leaders to go at war but the European history tells us that, actually, we need strong leaderships for the peace. I think this is what Colombia needs: great leaders for peace.
Link to the video:http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I121781