Martin Schulz welcomes Colombian peace deal with Farc rebels

The European Parliament President also warned that democracy in Venezuela was "in danger".

Martin Schulz and Juan Manuel Santos | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Julie Levy-Abegnoli

26 Aug 2016

European Parliament President Martin Schulz has welcomed the announcement of a peace agreement between the Colombian government and the Farc.

The deal comes after nearly 50 years of murderous conflict between the state and the Leftist paramilitary group which has left around 220,000 dead and untold thousands of 'disappeared'.

The German MEP and European Parliament chief, who was in Colombia earlier this week on an official visit, said, "Generations of Colombians had been waiting for this moment and many thought it would never come. Today rewards those who, through perseverance and courage, never stopped believing in peace. It is now for the Colombian people to decide whether to endorse this accord.


"Colombian citizens now have the tangible prospect of a life which is safer, for them and for their children; where opportunity, education, rights and duties reach peoples and regions which had so far been cut off from Colombia’s economic and social development."

Schulz reiterated the EU's support to the peace process, to which the bloc has ratified a €400m credit line, in addition to the €70m peace fund agreed to last year.

GUE/NGL group MEP Marina Albiol, a Vice-Chair of the Parliament's delegation to the Euro-Latin American parliamentary assembly, also hailed the agreement, calling it, "an important opportunity to consolidate peace in Colombia and end murder, blackmail and harassment of human rights defenders."

The adoption of the agreement will now depend on a referendum, to be held on 2 October. For the peace accord to take effect, the 'Yes' camp must win a majority while gathering at least 4.4 million votes, or 13 per cent of the electorate.

Additionally, the Colombian government is still fighting with the smaller armed insurgent group, the National Liberation Army (ELN).

Albiol said, "We urge the Colombian government to strengthen its negotiations with the ELN, since peace will not be completely achieved without an agreement with them. We also regret that the recent arrest of the former leader of the ELN, Carlos Velandia, was a move in the opposite direction."

Prior to his visit to Colombia, Schulz was in Venezuela, which is in the throes of a severe political and economic crisis. The European Parliament President warned that the country's democracy was "in danger."

Referring to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government, Schulz said, "Its abilities depend on its legitimacy. However, the last general elections showed that a large majority of the population disagrees with what the government is doing. The government should be reacting accordingly."

The country has been faced with a deep recession following a drop in the price of oil, which accounts for 96 per cent of its exports. This, in turn, has led to a shortage affecting nearly 80 per cent of basic goods.

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