Colombia’s chief government negotiator gave an assured performance on the first day of “serious, dignified and efficient” peace talks in Oslo.
Lead government negotiator Humberto de la Calle delivered a temperate message at the start of the second phase of peace talks saying FARC guerrillas should not abandon their ideals and principles but rather, “that they express them without the use of weapons.”
Following introductory remarks from Norwegian and Cuban officials, De la Calle took center stage at a joint press conference with FARC delegates on Thursday, setting forth his optimism for the forthcoming negotiations in Oslo that will later move to Havana, Cuba.
The 66-year-old former vice-president reiterated the official line that Colombia must take advantage of the opportunity at hand. “We have considered mechanisms for citizens to participate with their proposals. There is a new Colombia, people are more aware of their rights…our fellow citizens are not willing to endure delays or tricks.”
De la Calle later answered questions from journalists directly and in the absence of FARC negotiators. During both events, the government was keen to emphasize the differences between the current peace process and the failed talks ten years ago. The conditions in 2012, “are totally distinct” from previous attempts at peace, argued De la Calle.
As an example, the Colombian armed forces will not cease any military activity against FARC insurgents until a peace accord is finalized, according to the chief government spokesman.
The restrained style of De la Calle, who has thus far been the only government representative to deliver a public performance in Oslo, could not have been more different from his adversaries. By way of contrast, lead FARC delegate, alias “Ivan Marquez,” waved his hands animatedly as he listed his complaints against the government and the perceived ills in Colombia.
The negotiations between the two warring parties are taking place at the Hurdal Hotel, 30 miles north of the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Phase three of talks, which will focus on the implementation of a peace deal, is expected to commence mid-November in Cuba.