Blok visits peace project in Colombia

As part of his trip to the Caribbean and Colombia, foreign minister Stef Blok has visited a UN-administered reintegration camp for former FARC fighters in the north of Colombia. This is one of 27 camps where demobilised and disarmed ex-FARC fighters are being prepared for social and economic reintegration.

‘After over 50 years of conflict and violence, the Colombian people want to see tangible results from the peace agreement,’ said the minister. ‘I’ve come here to see for myself how the implementation process is progressing.’

The area visited by Mr Blok is one of the poorest parts of the country, with a long tradition of violence, government mismanagement and corruption. It is hoped that a focus on agriculture and alternative sources of energy will fuel the country’s social and economic development. To this end, the local population, authorities and former rebels must work together, to move towards a future characterised by legal certainty, security and prosperity.

‘The peace process is essential to the economic prosperity of the local population,’ the minister remarked, ‘and over the long run it will create opportunities for Dutch businesses in Colombia.’

The peace agreement with the FARC is a major milestone on the road to peace and stability in the country. The Netherlands is involved in the peace process, both politically and financially. For example, with the help of the Dutch Land Registry the Netherlands is helping to broaden access to land. Good land registration is an essential condition for developing parts of the country that were long under FARC control and which have now opened up. The aim is to show that it is possible to register land and issue land titles to farmers in a way that is quick, inexpensive and precise.

Prior to his field visit Mr Blok spoke at length about the political and security situation in Colombia with his counterpart, María Ángela Holguín. In that meeting he emphasised that the current government and any future administrations must safeguard the peace process across the board and that more must be done to protect human rights defenders and social leaders.