Sunday 23 October 2016

Colombia peace deal 'historic' - Gilmore

Published 26/08/2016 | 02:30

Eamon Gilmore Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Eamon Gilmore Photo: Frank Mc Grath

Eamon Gilmore, the EU envoy to Colombia, described the peace deal there as "truly historic" and "a very good example of the exercise of European soft power".

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The former Tánaiste and ­Labour leader has been ­engaging in shuttle diplomacy to help broker a deal between the Colombian government and the left-wing Farc rebels.

An estimated 260,000 people have been killed in the ­conflict that lasted more than five ­decades. A peace deal was signed in Havana, Cuba on Wednesday night - the culmination of a four-year process - and will be voted on by the Colombian people in October.

While the United Nations will oversee its implementation, Mr Gilmore - a former foreign affairs minister - represented the EU at talks since late last year.

Mr Gilmore said: "This is truly historic to have reached a point where one of the longest and bloodiest conflicts in the world has now come to an end."

He said there is more work to be done and that the ­implementation phase will be "quite challenging", pointing out that issues such as ­decommissioning of arms, reparation for victims, and dealing with illegal drug cultivation, are all covered by the deal.

He said he was repeatedly asked about the peace process in Northern Ireland during the course of his involvement.

"That experience I think has been enormously helpful both in understanding what needs to be done to reach agreement in the first place, but also understanding that the difficult part of it is getting it implemented."

Mr Gilmore has been working with the EU's high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini who earlier this year announced a €575m package to support the Colombian peace process. He said that the EU's involvement is "a very good example of the exercise of European soft power".

Asked if he believes Britain's influence in such projects will diminish, Mr Gilmore replied: "To be fair on this one, Britain has played a very important role ... the issue of Britain and its role in the world post-Brexit is probably another subject."

Irish Independent

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