Brussels, 12 December 2016
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Muchas gracias. Esta es una ocasión muy especial para mí personalmente y para la Unión Europea. Fue un gran, gran placer dar la bienvenida a mi amigo el Presidente [Juan Manuel] Santos y a toda la delegación Colombiana, poco después de haber recibido el Premio Nobel de la Paz en Olso.
Su presencia aquí es un signo de nuestra amistad, es una señal de lo cercanos que son la Unión Europea y Colombia. Y para mí es un reconocimiento del papel que la Unión Europea está ejerciendo en favor de la paz en todo el mundo, incluida Colombia.
I know that all the data of the Trust Fund that we just signed have been made public and available to you, so I will not go into the details of that but I will just mention the fact that for the European Union and for its Member States, it is essential to turn our political support to this peace process that we had since the very beginning of it to the concrete support of the implementation of the peace agreement.
We know very well what conflict is in Europe. We have lived from Ireland to the Balkans, from the very heart of geographical Europe between France and Germany. Almost all of our European countries have known war in the past decades if not centuries and knowing how difficult making peace is, overcoming war, we also know that the most difficult time comes when you have to build the reconciliation, the peace, in the community and this is why our determination and our commitment today is, very concretely, to accompany Colombia and all Colombian people into this new page and new chapter they are building.
So the Trust Fund will allow the European Union and the Member States to accompany projects, first of all, focusing on rural areas for the concrete peace dividends to accompany projects to reach the people starting from women and children and making sure that reconciliation and the peace brings positive results for the everyday life of each and every Colombian.
Let me add that every year should bring with it at least one good news and this year it is thanks to President Santos and Colombia to bring to the world the good news of the year.
We know that it takes much more courage and determination and leadership to make peace rather than to make war and it is thanks, Mr President, to your determination, to your leadership, to your openness, in negotiations, in reviewing the agreement after the results of the referendum, in keeping talking and listening to your people, to all parts of the society in Colombia, with the support of the international community and with the support of the European Union for sure, that you managed to build this historic page.
We are really honoured and we have been really honoured with all the Foreign Ministers today to welcome you here in Brussels as a sign of friendship. We are honoured you decided to come just a few hours after the Nobel Peace Prize received in Oslo and we appreciate this gesture.
We will follow this up with concrete work and my simple message, on behalf of all Europeans, is count on us, continue to count on us, because putting an end to 52 years of war in Colombia is also an incredible result for Europeans. Thank you.
Muchas gracias, Señor Presidente, por esta paz que es una paz para todo el mundo.
Rightly so the President point out at numbers, maybe I would just wrap up the big numbers even if we provided all the data but overall the EU support to peacebuilding, to different instruments is €585 million, including the European Union Trust Fund, loans by the European Investment Bank, short-term actions and ongoing programmes, including the demining efforts and all the projects are and will be decided together with the Colombian authorities because our focus is the benefit for the people. So, indeed, this is a joint enterprise by the European Union institutions and the Member States in what we believe is a very crucial peace project.
Q. Los acuerdos de paz con las FARC han generado controversia en Colombia, con un referéndum que se opuso al primero convenio, el segundo ha sido aprobado por vía parlamentaria: le preocupa que de alguna forma la Unión Europea se esté inmiscuyendo en un debate político, interno, que divide la sociedad colombiana?
There is absolutely no interference and no wish to interfere from the European Union side in any way in the internal, domestic, Colombian political debate. We have always been extremely respectful of the political debate before, during and after the results of the referendum as well as in during the process that followed the results of the referendum. Ours is simply and institutionally a support to a country and to its people. In a moment when we see that peace can open way for economic improvements, but also for economic improvements and economic investments might and will require the peace to consolidate in order to bring results. So our relation is not with one part of the other of the Colombian political spectrum or society. Our friendship and partnership is with Colombian people and institutions. We have always followed very respectfully the institutional process launched. We have noticed that the Congress has overwhelmingly approved the revised agreement. I personally appreciated the determination of President Santos in the aftermath of the results of the referendum to engage with different parts of the political spectrum and society of the country to look for elements of revision of the agreement with a certain degree of flexibility that is hard to find in a political leader. We are at the service of a process for the benefit of the people, all Colombians.
Q: Este fondo tiene algún tipo de plazo específico para funcionar? El Enviado Especial de la Unión Europea, Señor [Eamon] Gilmore va a seguir acompañando a Colombia en la implementación de los acuerdos. Cuál va a ser su papel de aquí en adelante para este proceso?
My Special Envoy [for the Peace Process in Colombia, Eamon] Gilmore is going to continue this process. His determination, his experience, his passion also for the work he started, his experience in the Irish peace process in particular has proven to be – even if the context is completely different - precious I believe because he has a deep understanding of the difficulties of making peace after such a long and difficult war. So I asked him to continue accompanying the process, yes and he will do so. And indeed I believe that the steps that need to be taken now, the implementation of the agreement, the unity of the country and the dividends of peace for the people are going to be the challenges in front of us. While I was welcoming the President a couple of hours ago, I was telling you this shows that you do not stop even one single hour to celebrate, you immediately move to the things that need to be done next. And this Trust Fund, the discussion that we had today with the Ministers of all the 28 Member States already focused on what needs to be done from tomorrow onwards, so it is not a complacent step, it is not a celebration only – a little bit also – but it is mainly a working session to define which is the way ahead and how we can make all this process succeed. Because we know in Europe that building peace every single day on the ground is probably even more challenging than negotiating.
Link to the video (remarks): http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I130940
Link to the video (Q&A): http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I131083 and http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I130942