Foreign Affairs MEPs praised efforts from both the government and the FARC rebel group to end the internal conflict raging in Colombia for over 50 years and urged the EU to support the peace-building efforts, during a public hearing on Thursday.
Just one week after the Chamber demonstrated unanimous support to the peace process in Colombia in a resolution, MEPs have acclaimed the political effort, realism and perseverance shown by both the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) to bring the Colombian peace process to a successful conclusion. 23 March, the deadline set by the negotiators, is a realistic timeframe to conclude an agreement, they said.
Foreign Affairs Committee members quizzed Colombia's High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo, FARC Head Negotiator Iván Márquez and the EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia, Eamon Gilmore, about risks of the peace process, stressing the importance of reaching a fair and sustainable agreement and of its full implementation. MEPs also raised the issues of narco-trafficking, rural development, political participation by the FARC and the planned setup of an EU trust fund.
You can rewatch the debate on EP Live.
Negotiations between the Colombian Government and the FARC with a view to ending the armed conflict have been going on in Havana since October 2012. On 23 September 2015, the outlines of an agreement on transitional justice were announced, as well as a 6-month deadline for completing the negotiations (23 March 2016).
The FARC and the Colombian government on 19 January asked the UN to oversee the end of the conflict for 12 months and to monitor the disarmament process. They described this as a "particularly significant step" towards a peace pact which the parties hope to sign in the coming months.
FARC rebels have been fighting the government since 1964. According to the Unit for Attention and Reparation of Victims of the Colombian government, an estimated 220,000 people were killed, more than five million internally displaced. It has also led to more than seven million registered victims.