Joerg Vogelsaenger and Maria Prieto -
Attempts by the Colombian opposition to walk back the government’s 2016 peace deal with the leftist guerrilla movement Farc will not bear fruit, President Juan Manuel Santos says.
The president, who is approaching the end of his second and final term, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end the country’s 52-year armed conflict.
Santos spoke to this agency about the peace deal, about peace talks with the smaller guerrilla group, National Liberation Army (ELN), and other issues. Excepts:
Q: Concerning the peace process, opposition candidate Ivan Duque says that if he wins the presidential elections [first round on May 27], he will substantially modify the peace agreement. To what extent is it possible to do so?
A: They will find it very difficult, because we believe the agreement is ironclad; not only [by] the government, [but also by] the Constitutional Court and the international community. The Constitutional Court itself said in a ruling that the next three governments may not issue laws or take decisions that go against the agreements.
A very important part of the agreement has already been implemented, since the guerrillas have already been disarmed, have already been demobilised, are already a political party and already participated in elections...
[T]he next president would find very difficult, I would say impossible, judicially, practically and politically, to reverse the agreement.
Q: How far can the negotiations with ELN progress before the end of your term?
A: We’ll try to get as far as possible. How far depends on the two parties. Our intention is to see if we can negotiate a more serious, deeper ceasefire and speed up the negotiations to reach, I hope, a framework agreement similar to what was negotiated that Good Friday between the parties of Northern Ireland. I know it is an ambitious goal, but if there is willingness on the part of ELN, we could reach that point.
Q: Colombia has received almost a million refugees from Venezuela. Can we talk about a humanitarian crisis? And to what extent does Colombia have the capacity to cope with this situation?
A: We need international help. It is a very difficult situation. We are not used to receiving this number of migrants. We have done it with a lot of pragmatism and with a lot of generosity. We have solidarity with the Venezuelan people, but not with the predators, not with the regime that is causing this humanitarian crisis. — dpa