Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos has received political support from the European Parliament and the German government for his peace efforts with the FARC as his whirlwind European tour enters its third day.
Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, announced her government’s support for the peace process just two days after the German state-owned development bank announced a loan of $100 million over the next two years to support projects agreed upon in any eventual peace deal with the FARC guerrillas.
One leader within a ruling coalition political party told El Espectador that he did not rule out more financial resources being committed to Colombia.
“For us, Colombia is an extremely important country, that is shaping up to be a potential “Gestaltungsmacht” (constructive power) in Latina America,” the German party official said.
Meanwhile, Herman Von Rompuy, head of the European Council, also announced the political support of the European Union, adding that “we are also ready to give concrete assistance to Colombia at the time of the implementation of a peace agreement, once the negotiations are over.”
Critical voices were also heard in both Brussels and the German capital of Berlin.
Santos had to answer a number a question over his government’s policies in the European Parliament, including concerns raised over human rights and the free trade agreement with the United States.
And in Berlin, a German parliamentarian, Heike Hansel, criticized the search for financial resources for peace while spending considerable resources on the Colombian military.
“It is incomprehensible that Colombia seeks financial aid for the post-conflict Colombia, the construction of peace and the financing of democratic structures, while continuing to maintain more than 500,000 active soldiers with their corresponding high budgetary spending,” Hansel said.
Santos began the five-day marathon tour of Europe on Monday with the explicit aim of securing political and economic support for post-conflict Colombia.
The president has now visited top diplomats and heads of state in Spain, Belgium, and Germany, with meetings scheduled in London, Paris, and Lisbon over the next two days.
Recent remarks from Santos indicated that he would be seeking a “type of Marshall Plan” from foreign governments to finance post-conflict measures in Colombia, referencing the economic aid package used to rebuild post-war Europe after the defeat of Nazi Germany.
But as he kicked-off the tour in Madrid, Spain, he mentioned the need of economic support from the European Union in order to finance post-conflict measures and programs in the South American country without making it the only goal of his trip.
“We are not yet asking for resources, but that sufficient steps are taken to legally constitute a fund that will be one of the funds used to finance the project of the post-conflict [recovery],” the president said.
The Colombian president said through a statement on his website that he would be seeking political support for the two remaining topics on the agenda of the peace talks, which began in 2012.
Referencing the issues of the end of the conflict and justice for the victims, Santos said that “here we are facing difficult decisions and we need political support to be able to make them, so that we finally achieve peace in Colombia.”
Spain supports the creation of a European economic fund for post-conflict Colombia, though has not committed a specific amount, according to the president. Brussels has also indicated it would provide economic support for an eventual deal. Only Germany has been willing to offer concrete financial assistance thus far with its $100 million loan.
- Alemania frente al proceso de paz (El Espectador)
- Alemania anuncia ayuda económica para el proceso de paz de Colombia (President’s Office)
- Unión Europea seguirá prestando completo apoyo a negociaciones de paz (President’s Office)
- La gira europea de Santos, más política que de plata (La Silla Vacia)