The chief negotiator of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the world’s oldest active guerrilla army, requested on Thursday that the group be removed from the European Union list of terrorist organizations.
“In our judgment, the fairest and most compatible option in the search for peace is to remove the FARC-EP from the list of terrorist organizations,” said alias Iván Márquez in a statement broadcast via videoconference to the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“Doing so would remove a serious obstacle to the normalization of Colombian political life and would guarantee the process of reincorporation into civil life for former rebel combatants.”
Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack in New York, the EU created a list of individuals and groups allegedly responsible for planning or executing acts of terrorism worldwide.
To be added to the list, a person or organization must be involved in an “initiation of investigations or prosecution for a terrorist act or an attempt to carry out or facilitate such an act” or have received “condemnation for any of those actions.”
Two Colombian groups – the FARC and the National Liberation Army (ELN) – made the EU’s most recent list. FARC has been included since 2002.
The ELN, Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla army, has stated its desire to begin a peace process and has entered into preliminary talks with government representatives.
Groups or persons on the EU terrorism list can request that the European Council reconsider their inclusion by providing evidence to support such a change.
In his statement Thursday, Márquez cited the FARC’s unilateral ceasefire, de-mining efforts and attempts to locate and return the remains of thousands of people disappeared during the conflict as evidence that the group is working toward peace.
“It is necessary that the causes of this conflict never repeat themselves; that the peace accord that we achieve be not just a simple parenthesis in our dramatic history, but rather the start of a lasting period of reconciliation and prosperity,” he said.
Sergio Jaramillo, Colombia’s high commissioner for peace, also spoke by videoconference to the Committee meeting Thursday.
He thanked those present for the European Parliament’s support in the peace process and requested continued international support in the post-conflict era.