The European Union (EU) insisted that Colombia’s government and the country’s largest rebel group FARC proceed with peace talks in spite of major setbacks in attempts to deescalate conflict-related violence.
The recent uptick in violence is jeopardizing an abundance of progress towards ending the armed conflict, said EU Commission Vice President Federica Mogherini in a press release from Brussels.
“It’s important that the parties remain committed to continue the negotiations in Havana and not lose the momentum for further progress in the peace talks. Equally, concrete steps must be taken towards a de-escalation of the situation on the ground,” said Mogherini.
Last month, an alleged FARC ambush in the rural area of Buenos Aires, Cauca in the southwest of Colombia left 11 soldiers dead. The attack, which was in violation of a self-imposed unilateral ceasefire by the FARC, led President Juan Manuel Santos to resume air strikes.
After 26 guerrillas were killed in an air strike on the Pacific coast, the FARC ended the truce that according to analysts had significantly lessened violence.
Mogherini drew attention to the EU’s willingness to cooperate with the Colombian government and the FARC, provided that they too show an effort to continue making progress in negotiations.
One way to prove to the Colombian people that peace talks are still moving in the right direction would be to proceed with the pending demining of rural areas, said Mogherini.
“The rapid implementation of the agreement on de-mining announced in March offers a crucial opportunity to demonstrate continued commitment and show to Colombian society how peace can bring concrete benefits,” said Mogherini.
Over 11,000 people have been affected by land mines in the past 25 years. Colombia is second only to Afghanistan in the number of land mine related injuries and deaths.
Talks have been ongoing in Havana, Cuba since 2012. During these negotiations, partial agreements were signed on rural reform and political participation, both considered the main causes of the conflict, and drug trafficking, which has fueled the violence since the 1980s.
The two teams are currently negotiating how to compensate the 7 million victims of the conflict, how to achieve justice for the tens of thousands of crimes committed by both parties, and how to reintegrate demobilized FARC fighters in the event of a final deal.