As we come to a critical period in Colombia’s history, senior members of CPDB have returned to offer assistance on a number of fronts.
The negotiations between the Government of Colombia and senior officials of FARC are coming to a conclusion and though it had been clear for some weeks that the March 23rd deadline would not see the signing of an agreement, it was equally clear that the commitment of both sides is very likely to see a positive outcome within weeks.
Director, Jeffrey Donaldson MP and Chairman, Lord Alderdice both made separate visits during March to follow on their previous involvements in the Colombian Peace Process.
In his three-day visit Jeffrey Donaldson continued his work with other Northern Ireland politicians engaging with FARC political figures and elected and governmental officials, including the Presidents of the Senate and the House in the Colombian Congress.
Lord Alderdice met senior government officials including the country’s President, Juan Manuel Santos and also spent much of his week-long visit encouraging and supporting university and professional groups and peace NGO’s, including the Colombian Peace Council and the Centre for Memory Peace and Reconciliation in Bogota. He focussed in on the needs of the seven million victims of the decades of violent conflict and explored the challenges the Government faces in re-integrating thousands of former guerillas and paramilitaries. He also addressed meetings of senior private sector CEO’s in Colombia about the opportunities and responsibilities of the business and commerce communities to contribute to the implementation of the Peace Agreement when it comes.
Speaking to the press in the Presidential Palace in Bogota after his meeting with President Juan Manuel Santos, Lord Alderdice said:
“I had an excellent meeting with the President and assured him of the support and good wishes for the Colombian Peace Process of the more than 100 member parties of Liberal International, of which I am Presidente d’Honneur, and also of people across the United Kingdom and Ireland. We discussed in some detail the challenges of completing the negotiations in the very near future, seeking public affirmation in a plebiscite and the difficult and inevitably long-term work of implementation during the rest of his Presidency and beyond. The President is working extremely hard to deliver a peace that will make for a better future for the children of Colombia, and for their sake this unprecedented opportunity for a settlement must not be lost.”
CDPB intends to continue to respond positively to the requests for assistance from Colombia.