President Santos in Europe Seeking Funds for Peace

Justice For Colombia News | on: Tuesday, 4 November 2014

President Santos is today in Brussels, the second stop in his European tour. This visit seeks European political and financial support for Colombia’s post-conflict, if the peace talks are successfully concluded. Santos has already visited Madrid, where the Spanish government has promised its support for the idea of a European fund for the consolidation of peace in Colombia. Santos is also scheduled to visit Paris, Berlin and London.

In Belgium Santos will meet with King Phillip of Belgium and Belgian PM, Charles Michel, as well as meeting EU officials – the president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, as well as the Security and Foreign Policy representative Federica Mogherini, the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schultz while also participating in a session of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Parliament.

Santos stated that in Europe he will be asking for “sufficient steps” to be taken to legally set up a fund that would be one several used to finance post-conflict commitments. The Colombian Senate’s Peace Commission has calculated that at least 35 billion euros (90 trillion Colombian pesos) would be necessary to implement the agreements. So far the German Credit Bank for Reconstruction and Development has agreed to provide Colombia with a $100 million dollar loan.

In a statement JFC Vice-President and human rights campaigner Richard Howitt MEP (S&D, UK) said "I hope today's visit by President Santos can trigger greater international and specifically European support for a genuine, inclusive and lasting peace process in Colombia.” Adding that "peace must involve all responsible for the conflict and must benefit all who have suffered so much from it." The latter comment alludes to some of the issues that remain in the talks, in particular that civil society has been largely excluded from the talks process. Howitt also called on the Colombian government to release Hubert Ballesteros, the trade union leader unjustly imprisoned a year ago, and raised concerns about the safety of Senator Ivan Cepeda. Senator Cepeda is a leading human rights defender who has been key to exposing former-president Uribe’s links to paramilitarism and who has received death threats multiple times recently.

While the current talks have advanced further than any previous negotiations, the knottiest issues are yet to be resolved at the table. Furthermore, observers point out that there is still strong opposition to the talks among the extreme right in Colombia, and among some sectors of the armed forces who fear prosecution for abuses committed during the conflict. With regard to EU funding for the implementation of peace in Colombia, it is unclear whether the bloc will be able to provide a substantial proportion of what is required given the current financial crisis affecting much of the region.

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