Durkan welcomes Colombia FARC accord

Foyle MP Mark Durkan speaking with a delegation of Colombian human rights defenders on a visit to Derry in June to learn more about the Irish peace process.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan speaking with a delegation of Colombian human rights defenders on a visit to Derry in June to learn more about the Irish peace process.

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SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has welcomed a new peace accord between the Colombian government and FARC rebels.

Mr Durkan, who has been involved in peace talks in Colombia and Cuba over recent years, was speaking after the recent development, which followed five decades of armed conflict in which an estimated 220,000 people have been killed.

Mr Durkan, who has met with senior government representatives and FARC leader Timochenko, said:

“We appreciate that it has been a long and difficult effort to reach this landmark, but this is not the end of the challenging journey.

“We know from our own experience that tensions, contentions and frustrations arise in the interpretation and implementation of an agreement, not least in the face of events and challenges.

“Those who have reached this agreement which covers vexed issues will need to maintain an axis of understanding, mutual respect and shared adherence to its spirit and terms.

“It is also important that the international community supports this agreement, not just through positive diplomatic engagement with the Colombian government, but also with open lateral engagement with wider democratic and civil society players throughout Colombia.”

Mr Durkan said there now needed to be real collateral support for the “challenging but promising processes of transition”, which said can release the potential of so many in Colombian society.

“International support should not just underpin the strong human rights ethic on which progress needs to be grounded but also in helping to emancipate social, economic and cultural opportunities in key regions and sectors to ensure more people have a positive stake in this new beginning and enjoy a real share in its potential,” he said.