BRUSSELS: The European Union said Tuesday it had suspended Colombia’s FARC rebel group from its terror list, following the official signing of a peace accord between the leftist rebel force and the Columbian government.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was added to the EU terror list in 2002. The list details the “persons, groups and entities involved in terrorist acts and subject to restrictive measures.”
Its suspension came into force following the historic signing of the peace agreement Monday in a ceremony in the colonial city of Cartagena.
The move will have a significant practical impact, an EU official told AFP.
“The effect of the suspension is that the FARC will remain on the EU list of terrorist entities, but the restrictive measures (asset-freeze and prohibition on making funds available) will stop applying,” the official said.
“As a consequence, EU persons and entities will be able to provide funding to members of the FARC as part of the implementation of the peace process.”
The official said the sanctions would be suspended for an initial period of six months, after which they would be reviewed.
“The FARC have taken a number of positive steps that the Council’s decision acknowledges. However these positive steps will have to be confirmed,” the official said.
A complete removal of FARC from the terror list “could be considered therefore after the six month review depending on the effective implementation of the peace agreement.”
‘Courage to turn the page’
The signing followed a four-year process to end Latin America’s last major armed conflict. The accord remains to be ratified in a referendum next week.
Colombian authorities estimate the territorial and ideological conflict has killed 260,000 people, left 45,000 missing and uprooted 6.9 million.
The EU is now “ready to continue our support, focusing on the implementation of the agreement,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
The EU is ready to activate a 600-million-euro package to support the peace deal, she said.
The suspension of the sanctions necessitates the agreement of all European capitals.
On Sunday, the EU’s Colombia envoy Ana Paula Zacarias said the guerrilla group could be definitively removed from the blacklist after a six-month review process in which the bloc could have “political dialogue with guerrilla members”.
The FARC, a Marxist guerrilla group, launched its war on the Colombian government in 1964, after a peasant uprising that was crushed by the army.
Over the decades, the conflict drew in several leftist rebel groups, right-wing paramilitaries and drug gangs.
Under the deal, the FARC is now to relaunch as a political party.
“Today, Columbia has had the courage to turn the page after a long conflict of some fifty years and show the world that peace is possible and can become a reality,” said Mogherini.