The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been “suspended” from the European Union list of terror groups, reads a statement from the High Representative and a decision that will be ratified after the official peace signing in Cartagena, Monday September 26. The EU’s Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia, Eamon Gilmore is attending the ceremony.
The move, announced Monday afternoon by EU Foreign Policy head Federica Mogherini, comes just hours before Colombia’s government is expected to sign a peace agreement with the FARC. That agreement, several years in the making, will effectively end more than five decades of armed conflict.
The FARC have been on the EU watch list since 2002. Removing the guerrilla group from its designation as a terrorist organization would free up millions of euros in foreign aid for Colombia to use during the post-conflict transition.
Colombia’s citizens must still approve the agreement reached between President Juan Manuel Santos and FARC leaders before it takes effect. Public opinion polls suggest that it will pass during a popular vote next Sunday.
Also on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States would review the FARC’s status on the nation’s own terrorist group list, where it has remained since 1997.
“We don’t want to leave people on a list, if they don’t belong on a list,” he said, while acknowledging that the decision had not yet been made to remove FARC from the list.
Kerry, along with dozens of other world leaders, was in Cartagena on Monday to oversee the signing of the historic agreement.
The United States has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in support for the post-conflict effort, including a massive de-mining effort.
Peace talks with the FARC began in 2012 in Havana. The final agreement to be signed Monday bears the support of the United Nations and the United States government, among other international entities.
Colombia’s second-largest guerrilla organization, the National Liberation Army (ELN) also announced that it had entered into preliminary phases of peace negotiations with the Colombian government earlier this year.