The two Foreign Ministers today opened a conference in the Federal Foreign Office with more than 200 participants to examine the contributions of science and business on the road to peace in Colombia. In his opening speech, Foreign Minister Maas emphasised:
Colombia’s courage in concluding the historic peace agreement with the FARC has triggered great admiration all over the world, also in Germany. It creates hope at a time when conflicts are on the rise worldwide, commitment to the international order is declining and ideological rifts threaten to sow division among us.
More support for a fragile process
In October, the Security Council described the peace process in Colombia as “a source of inspiration for efforts in many parts of the world to end conflicts and build peace”. Maas believes this statement expresses remarkable unity and support which Germany, as a future Security Council member, wants to preserve and strengthen. “Germany stands shoulder to shoulder with Colombia as a friend and partner” as Maas continued, outlining that the Federal Foreign Office is to make available a further ten million euros for the United Nations Trust Fund for Colombia.
The road to peace in Colombia is long and arduous, the process remains fragile. This is shown above all by the numerous murders of people working to promote a non violent and socially just country. Yet the chance for peace is greater than ever before. Nevertheless, as Maas underlined, perseverance will be required.
Political support and concrete projects
Germany is playing an important role in the peace efforts: the Special Envoy Tom Koenigs is providing political support for the negotiations and talks. Germany is also a member of the group set up to support the peace process with the ELN guerillas. Many projects are underway to deal with the complex consequences of the conflict: Germany is for example supporting the integration of internally displaced persons, conflict management and mine clearance.
The newly formed and unique German-Colombian Peace Institute CAPAZ in Bogotá brings people together all across the country who would not normally encounter one another: former militants of the guerilla movement FARC and members of the military or civil society, for example. CAPAZ offers political consultancy on dealing with violence and is researching the economic aspects of the peace process.
Huge potential for business
Maas emphasised that long term stabilisation cannot be performed by state actors alone but that the private sector should also play its part. For him, Colombia offers enormous potential, with lasting peace providing an opportunity to finally use this potential. As one of Latin America’s largest economies, Colombia has been growing constantly for years with more than 150 German businesses now represented in the country. Maas wants to build on this.