Koenders welcomes temporary ceasefire with ELN and progress in Colombian peace process

Foreign minister Bert Koenders met with his Colombian counterpart María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar in The Hague on Tuesday to discuss progress in the Colombian peace process. The Netherlands is actively involved in the process, playing a supportive role both in the implementation of the peace agreement with the FARC and in the peace negotiations between the Colombian government and the guerrilla movement ELN.

‘It’s good to see that progress is being made,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘I’m impressed with what the Colombian government has managed to achieve with diplomacy.’

He had welcomed the announcement earlier this month of the temporary ceasefire between the Colombian government and the ELN. The ceasefire will last over three months, and take effect soon. ‘The peace accord with the FARC laid the foundation for a future without violence,’ Mr Koenders said. ‘Now this temporary ceasefire with the ELN is a promising outcome of the talks that began in February.’ The minister hopes that the ceasefire can be made permanent.

Together with four other European countries, the Netherlands is part of the support group that is helping to guide the peace talks in Quito by providing substantive, technical and financial assistance. ‘All of the international community’s efforts in Colombia are aimed at fostering unity and reconciliation,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘If all the parties involved keep their eyes on that prize, a peaceful settlement should definitely be possible.’

Among other things, the Colombian and Dutch ministers discussed on Tuesday the situation in Venuezuela, the impact of hurricane Irma, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ membership next year of the UN Security Council. Mr Koenders also expressed his personal gratitude for the Colombian authorities’ successful efforts to secure the release in late June of the Dutch journalists Derk Bolt and Eugenio Follender.

Development and foreign trade minister Lilianne Ploumen had spoken on Monday with Ms Holguín, who is spending several days in the Netherlands.