The European Union has vowed to release the necessary funds for post-conflict projects once Colombia’s government has signed peace with the FARC, the country’s largest leftist rebel group.
Colombia’s High Commissioner for Peace, Sergio Jaramillo, met with the foreign ministers of twenty eight EU member states on Monday to discuss the financial support promised to consolidate the peace talks with FARC.
The EU invited Jaramillo to Luxembourg to talk about the €70 million fund.
The peace commissioner assured the EU representatives and Edita Hrda, the Managing Director of Americas of the European External Action Service, that the Colombian government was pursuing an agreement with FARC “as soon as possible.” In turn, the EU guaranteed its support, as soon as the treaty is signed.
The €70 million fund was authorized by the EU on March 23rd. Nine member states – Spain, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Holland, Portugal, Slovakia, Switzerland and the UK – have pledged to contribute to it.
Jaramillo said “there was a very broad consensus regarding the need to get quick results and quickly implement the agreements” of the treaty, in a way that is often not the case with “the slow bureaucratic processes in Brussels and in Colombia.”
Once a peace treaty with the FARC is signed, the government will use the money to put projects into effect immediately.
The peace commissioner suggested the financial fund will be used to help move away from the cultivation of illicit crops, to remove explosive mines, and for programs supporting the reintegration of FARC into society. He hopes that the early implementation of these projects will “help people, above all the people hit by the conflict, to see quick results.”
Beyond financial aid, Jaramillo is also looking to Europe for lessons on reconstruction. He drew parallels between modern day Colombia and Europe after the Second World War.
“I spent a good part of my youth in Europe, I witnessed first hand the effects of the Second World War and I was able to appreciate the miracle of the European Union. Now in Colombia we need our own miracle. The challenges are not insignificant: we must compensate 7 million victims, integrate Colombia’s periphery and rebuild the country.”
High Commissioner of Peace Sergio Jaramillo
Peace talks between the Colombian government and FARC have been ongoing for four years. Jaramillo will return to Latin American prior to April 21st, when the next round of talks is set to begin in Havana, Cuba.