Colombian President Alvaro Uribe at a conference at the University of Cartagena Thursday defended his government’s foreign policy, saying it had had to be redefined because a lack of collaboration from neighboring nations in the fight against terrorism.
“We are not interested in giggles and hugs in international relations, nor applause, nor little pats on the back as a sign of condolence. We are interested in respect and effective solidarity; the respect for the autonomy of nations,” Uribe said.
With less than 100 days until his mandate ends, the Colombian president said that he hopes his government’s legacy will be the agreement with the U.S. to put an end to terrorism and drug trafficking.
Uribe’s comments followed concerns expressed last week by Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez that “Colombian foreign policy is facing one of its worst crises in a long time.”
Relations between Colombia and its neighbors Venezuela and Ecuador are strained, and were the hot topic of a debate between presidential candidates Tuesday night.
Candidates were asked in the debate if they would renegotiate a controversial pact with the U.S. – which gives the North American nation access to seven military bases around Colombia – in order to repair relations with Venezuela, which is highly critical of the agreement. Colombia’s signing of the pact led Venezuela to freeze diplomatic relations with its neighbor and trade has since suffered considerably.
Uribe has a history of terse relations with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez and there is interest focused on how Colombia’s next president would deal with problematic relations with its brother nation.
The Colombian military’s 2008 incursion onto Ecaudorean soil in pursuit of FARC rebels has also been the focus of much debate, with an Ecuadorean court issuing charges against former defense minister and presidential candidate Juan Manuel Santos for his repsonsibility in the incident.
The presidents of both Ecuador and Venezuela have said that if Santos were Colombian president, he would be a threat to the region. Santos is the “Uribista” presidential candidate, who says if elected he will continue on with Uribe’s policies.