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Tuesday, 15 January, 2002, 12:35 GMT
Peace process continues - Pastrana
Colombian President Andres Pastrana, addressing nation
Pastrana: "Now is the time for decisions"
Extracts from Colombian President Andres Pastrana's television address in which he announced that peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group would continue:

Following a three-year process, the FARC and the national government recognised in October of last year that it was not viable to continue to negotiate in the middle of a conflict...

Ending the war is the true hope of the country and the Colombian people.


Obviously, the country knows that, had not this accord been reached and had we had to decree the end of the demilitarised zone, we would have done so without hesitation

That is the statement the FARC had not wanted to hear and the government demands the resolution of this situation.

Unfortunately... the FARC refused to negotiate under the pretext that they lacked guarantees in the demilitarised zone.

The government reiterated to the FARC that controls in the zone were not negotiable and that it was essential that the FARC clearly recognise the existence of guarantees in the demilitarised zone in order to maintain the peace process...

In recent days, Mr James Lemoyne, special adviser to the UN secretary general, and then the group of 10 facilitating countries, both requested the government's authorisation to meet the FARC and make a last-ditch attempt to save the process.

Thanks to their mediation today I can announce to the country that the requested statement has been issued and, therefore, the peace process continues.

'Onus on FARC'

The FARC have finally recognised... that guarantees prevail in that zone and they have accepted immediately to begin negotiations... starting with the ceasefire and suspension of hostilities and kidnappings...

However, this is not enough - the process can only be justified if it yields specific results, tangible actions of peace.


What was achieved today is not the victory of one party against the other, and I do not claim it as such

I know that the mere issuing of a declaration today will not help you, Colombian people, recover your faith in the FARC's word and willingness to achieve peace.

It is up to them, with their actions and responsibility, to earn the Colombian people's trust in their word.

What was achieved today is not the victory of one party against the other, and I do not claim it as such.

This is the result of the conviction of the vast majority of the Colombian people and the international community that the best way to end the conflict which causes so much bloodshed in Colombia is through dialogue and negotiation, as long as it yields specific results.

Obviously, the country knows that, had not this accord been reached and had we had to decree the end of the demilitarised zone, we would have done so without hesitation...

Critical week

The 48-hour deadline is no longer in effect. We now have until 20 January, when the demilitarised zone's period ends.


Time is ticking away again

Time is ticking away again and we must reach accords which show the country that the FARC are truly willing to achieve peace...

We will use this time to achieve the definition of a specific timetable so that we may soon reach accords aimed at lessening the conflict and leaving the civilian population out of it, so kidnappings, extortion and destruction of national infrastructure end once and for all.

Consequently, I have given specific instructions to the high peace commissioner [Camilo Gomez] to begin meetings this very evening...

Now is the time for decisions, like never before in the process.

Now is the time to achieve progress with specific actions towards the achievement of peace and the humanisation of this conflict...

The FARC should not fool themselves... We have clearly shown the violent groups just how far we are determined to go to recover the peace we all have the right to...

Colombian women and men, my pledge to you is to keep on trying to achieve peace - but not just any peace.

It is the peace that Colombia deserves - a dignified and just peace...

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