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Inroductory remarks by Dr. Laima Andrikiene in the EPP-ED Study day "COLOMBIA: Peace Processes and their legal framework", September 22, 2005

Dr. Laima Andrikiene, MEP

EPP-ED Study Day on Colombia
September 22, 2005

Excellencies,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We continue our conference. Now we are to discuss one of the key topics of today“s event - the justice, truth and reparation law and its impact on the peace process in Colombia.

Before I will give a floor to Mr.Luis Gonzalez, who will present the law let me say a few introductory remarks.

For several decades, Colombia“s internal situation has been dramatic, with countless murders, kidnappings and violent acts of all kinds, a reign of terror perpetrated by guerrillas and paramilitaries, the highly sensitive issues of drug production and consumption, human rights trampled underfoot and a state apparatus incapable of mastering the situation.

Under President Andres Pastrana for the first time a Colombian Government made a restoration of peace a priority and fundamental goal. Real efforts were made towards dialogue and pacification, although these unfortunately did not succeed.

The EU welcomed the initiatives by the Pastrana Government, and called for them to go further. Colombia has been chosen as one of the priority countries for EU measures in the field of human rights. The Colombian peace process enjoys international support, with regular meetings on resolving the conflicts being held, which involve both Colombian players and numerous international participants, including representatives from the EU.

Colombia, where the terror and violence of the military groups is lasting already for four decades, is the largest producer and exporter of cocaine in the world. The organised criminal groups and drug cartels make a big influence to the state economy and politics.

Guerrilla activities and drug cultivation have inevitably had an impact on the human rights situation. Various NGOs active in the field have criticised the use of violence by the guerrillas and the situation of impunity; the agreement between Uribe“s Government and the paramilitaries; threats against human rights defenders.

The fight against violence, kidnapping of people, other abuse of the human rights might be succeeded only having eliminated its ground and the roots of narco mafia. Colombia needs our support as well as our efforts to fight the drugs in Europe.

Observers believe that it is practically impossible to win the war by military means without engaging in dialogue, due to Colombia's geographical characteristic and the weakness of its army. Under the President Alvaro Uribe the new law on peace and reconciliation was adopted in Colombia in July this year and is in the process of implementation.

Peace is better than war. The government which seeks peace and stability deserves our support. This conference in the European Parliament would have to boost the new and more efficient initiatives of the European Union in achieving a stability and peace in Colombia.

I now I would like to give a floor to Mr.Luis Gonzalez.