France’s former ambassador to Colombia Jean Michel Marlaud gave an interview to Colombian magazine “Semana” two weeks after leaving his three-year post in Colombia.
Marlaud argued that the chance of a peace process is “in the hands of the guerrillas.” He said the FARC must make “concrete gestures” such as the release of hostages, to demonstrate that they are serious about peace talks.
“To act as a terrorist movement gives them no advantage, instead, twelve years of kidnapping hostages has come at a high cost,” said the diplomat. “I am not saying there are not political objectives in the guerrilla movement, but as long as they behave as a terrorist movement, we will not hear their political message, if there is any.”
Marlaud conceded that the release of FARC “foreign minister” Rodrigo Granda was a “failure” because Granda was not “willing to play the role of a manager of peace, as we had hoped.” The French government requested the release of Granda, but Marlaud pointed out that the original initiative behind the release of guerrillas came from President Alvaro Uribe.
Discussing the hostage release of French-Colombian citizen and former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, Marlaud stated that France’s “interest in peace in Colombia did not disappear with the release of Ingrid.”
Former President Alvaro Uribe said in March that France had lost interest in Colombia after FARC hostage Ingrid Betancourt was rescued. The then-leader said he was disappointed that France had turned its back on Colombia after Uribe’s government agreed to a humanitarian exchange of FARC “foreign minister” Rodrigo Granda – at French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s request – to aid in Betancourt’s liberation.
France is the top provider of employment to Colombians among foreign countries, as well as the fourth largest investor in Colombia.