Bogotá, July 12, 2015 (SIG).
“We should not be afraid of peace, but of war”, President Juan Manuel Santos said this Sunday in his speech to the Colombian people, during which he addressed the topic of the peace process with the FARC.
The President said that the dialogues should be sped up to achieve the end of the conflict as soon as possible, which was precisely the agreement reached today in Havana.
The Head of State informed that this Sunday, the negotiators of the Government and the FARC defined a plan to reach the signature of the Final Agreement without delays, and decided to work without rest until the pending points are finalized.
He stated that in this sense, the parties also decided to move forward without delays in defining the terms of the Final and Bilateral Ceasefire and End to the Hostilities and the Laying down of Arms, under a monitoring and verification system with international presence.
We hope more progress is made
President Santos reminded that the ceasefire and the laying down of arms have been under discussion in a sub-commission featuring the participation of high-ranking military and police officials in active duty, which provides the peace of mind and confidence regarding the fact that whatever is agreed will be properly done.
He also stated that a decision was made today whereby this sub-commission will be supported by a delegate of the Secretary General of the United Nations and a delegate from Uruguay, the most experienced country in this topic.
“They will contribute to the monitoring and verification, an indispensable condition in order for a possible ceasefire to provide guarantees and trust to the Colombian people”, the President said.
He considered that, with this reinforcement from the international community that has strongly supported the process, “we hope more progress is made, and progress is better and faster on this fundamental issue”.
The President pointed out that, meanwhile, it is urgent to de-escalate the conflict again and reduce the intensity of the war.
“Because we have been speaking amid war, but the Colombian people increasingly have trouble understanding how in Havana the conversations speak of peace while in Colombia the attacks and the deaths are ongoing. The deaths, destruction and pain that this absurd confrontation leave behind every day need to be stopped now”, he added.
‘We will be vigilant’
The Head of State reminded that, in this direction, the FARC committed themselves today to maintain the unilateral suspension of all kinds of offensive actions.
“And if they suspend their offensive against the country, we will also proceed to de-escalate the military actions”, he said.
In this regard, the President stated that “our Armed Forces are ready for a gradual de-escalation, if the FARC live up to their word. If they don’t, they will be ready to confront them, with the same determination and confidence with which they have always done it”.
“We will be vigilant over what was agreed today. And in four months from now, depending on whether or not the FARC live up to their word, I will make the decision regarding whether or not we carry on with the process”, the Head of State stressed.
“Let it be clear: we are not going to leave the Colombian people unprotected not even one second. This de-escalation is not a bilateral ceasefire, but it is a step forward to humanize war, to avoid more victims, while a final agreement is reached”, he reiterated.
‘End war forever’
According to President Santos, “the Colombian people need deeds of peace to recover their trust in the process. And that is what happened today in Havana: a decision has been made, which gives us a new ray of hope to reach a final agreement”.
“We have to achieve it –in spite of the difficulties, which I do not deny-; we will achieve it, with the support of the country and of the whole world that is also looking at us with hope and interest”, the President said.
And he stated once again that “the peace we achieve will be a peace that is fair, worthy and without impunity, -but first and foremost-, a necessary peace. Because Colombia is fully entitled to grow without war, to live in normalcy, to have our children live happy and without fear”.
The Head of State guaranteed that ‘red lines’ will be kept in the dialogues at Havana: “Our democratic system is not under discussion, nor our economic model, nor private property, nor the size or the future of our Armed Forces, nor any other topic –not one!- which is not included in the pre-established agenda”, he said.
And he pointed out that “what we want is not a suspension of hostilities for a few months, but rather to end the war once and for all, and forever”.