A bill has been presented before Colombia’s Congress to ratifiy the agreeement signed in June between NATO and Colombia.
The Defense Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon, presented the bill to Congress on Wednesday as the first step towards ratifying the agreement made in Brussels on June 25th, in which Colombia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) – an intergovernmental military alliance – agreed to exchange intelligence information.
The agreement was signed despite fears from other countries in the area like Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua, who have claimed that Colombia wants to become a NATO member state.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said in June that Colombia’s agreement with NATO represented a “knife to the heart of the citizens of our [Latin] America.”
In fact, Colombia will not be able to become a member state of NATO owing to its geographical location. It is a member of UNASUR (Union of South American nations), the equivalent of NATO in South America
“It should be noted that the agreement does not in any way imply that there will be foreign troops in Colombian territory,” the bill says. “Nor does it imply the membership of Colombia to that organization [NATO].”
Pinzon views the agreement as the beginning of an “international cooperative strategy,” and is a key step towards Colombia asserting itself on the international stage. In June he said that the agreement “allows Colombia’s experiences in the fight against drug trafficking and international terrorism… to be known by other countries who need it.”
In return for its supposed expertise in fighting organized crime, drug-trafficking and rebel groups, Colombia will allegedly receive intelligence information from NATO, as well as gain access to best practices in relation to transparency, humanitarian operations, and strengthening the army.
Colombia has already participated in one NATO activity this year, the 2013 NATO Conference on Building Integrity, which was held in Monterey, California, in February.
- Acuerdo con la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte, NATO (Ministry of Defense)
- Las claves del acuerdo de Colombia con la OTAN (Semana)
- NATO and Colombia open channel for future cooperation (NATO official site)
- Controversia por propuesta de Santos de entrar a OTAN (Semana)
- 2013 NATO Building Integrity Conference (Official Site)