Kolumbien — Gates Praises Colombia as ‘Exporter of Security’

BOGOTA — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates offered high praise to Colom­bia today as an “exporter of secu­ri­ty” that, by shar­ing lessons learned in its crack­down against a left­ist insur­gency and drug-traf­fick­ing car­tels, pro­vides a mod­el for the region.

Gates offered con­grat­u­la­tions to Pres­i­dent Alvaro Uribe and Defense Min­is­ter Gabriel Sil­va Luján dur­ing his meet­ings with them today, call­ing their lead­er­ship in Colombia’s offen­sive against the left­ist Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces of Colum­bia, known as FARC, and oth­er para­mil­i­tary groups “hero­ic.”

“In just a few years, Colom­bia has achieved a remark­able, indeed his­toric, trans­for­ma­tion in the secu­ri­ty are­na that few would have thought pos­si­ble,” Gates said dur­ing a joint news con­fer­ence with Sil­va, dur­ing which Uribe offered open­ing remarks.

Gates praised progress in tak­ing Colom­bia “from a nation under siege from drug traf­fick­ing orga­ni­za­tions and mil­i­tary groups to a coun­try quick­ly becom­ing a lynch­pin of secu­ri­ty and pros­per­i­ty in South Amer­i­ca.” He also rec­og­nized the skill and brav­ery Colombia’s mil­i­tary and secu­ri­ty forces have demon­strat­ed in this effort. “Colombia’s men and women in uni­form have made great sac­ri­fices to dra­mat­i­cal­ly degrade the FARC and oth­er ter­ror­ist groups, mak­ing Colom­bia a unique source of expe­ri­ence and exper­tise in com­bat­ing these threats,” he said.

Gates com­mend­ed Colom­bia for shar­ing its knowl­edge and skills in coun­terin­sur­gency, law enforce­ment and anti-kid­nap­ping train­ing. “We believe these efforts are enhanc­ing sta­bil­i­ty in the Amer­i­c­as,” he said.

Mean­while, Colom­bia has helped its neigh­bors cope with nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, he said, includ­ing send­ing per­son­nel and sup­plies to both Haiti and Chile after their dev­as­tat­ing earth­quakes. These human­i­tar­i­an mis­sions are indica­tive of Colombia’s lead­er­ship in pro­mot­ing region­al coop­er­a­tion to con­front region­al threats and chal­lenges, he said. Gates also acknowl­edged Colombia’s role as an exporter of secu­ri­ty beyond its imme­di­ate neigh­bor­hood, not­ing its plans to send troops to Afghanistan to sup­port oper­a­tions there. “The Unit­ed States is com­mit­ted to pro­vide the sup­port nec­es­sary to help expe­dite this deploy­ment,” he said.

Look­ing to the future, the Unit­ed States hopes to build on this momen­tum, Gates said, call­ing the two coun­tries’ con­tin­ued bilat­er­al defense coop­er­a­tion “vital to both of our nations.”

Uribe thanked Gates and the Unit­ed States for its staunch sup­port in help­ing Colom­bia con­front the “long­stand­ing scourge” of its inter­nal threats. Colom­bia has not com­plete­ly emerged from “the long night of nar­co-ter­ror­ism,” he con­ced­ed, but he expressed opti­mism about what will be achieved through con­tin­ued part­ner­ship with the Unit­ed States. Asked why the Unit­ed States’ new defense coop­er­a­tion agree­ment with Brazil has drawn much less out­cry than the U.S.-Colombia accord did when it was signed in Octo­ber, Sil­va said the Unit­ed States and Colom­bia estab­lished a ground-break­ing mod­el that oth­ers in the region now hope to emu­late.

The U.S.-Colombian Defense Coop­er­a­tion Agree­ment for­mal­ized the mil­i­tary-to-mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship between the two coun­tries to bet­ter address nar­cotics pro­duc­tion and traf­fick­ing, ter­ror­ism, illic­it smug­gling and human­i­tar­i­an and nat­ur­al dis­as­ters.

Gates called the agree­ments “an impor­tant step for­ward” and said he hopes peo­ple come to real­ize they are focused only on pro­mot­ing bilat­er­al secu­ri­ty rela­tion­ships, not in pro­vid­ing a venue for the Unit­ed States to inter­fere in oth­er coun­tries’ mat­ters.

“I think these are oppor­tu­ni­ties for coop­er­a­tion,” he said. “The terms of these agree­ments are very explic­it, that include adher­ence to the prin­ci­ples of non-inter­fer­ence in the inter­nal affairs of oth­er coun­tries.”

The sec­re­tary said his talks here also extend­ed to the impor­tance of a get­ting a free trade agree­ment rat­i­fied, not­ing that he talked with Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Advi­sor James L. Jones Jr. before his trip here about renew­ing that effort. Gates ref­er­enced an op-ed piece he co-wrote with for­mer Colom­bian Defense Min­is­ter Juan Manuel San­tos in July 2008 press­ing for move­ment on the U.S.-Colombia Trade Pro­mo­tion Agree­ment and said his views haven’t changed.

“It’s a good deal for Colom­bia, and it’s a good deal for the Unit­ed States,” he said.

In his op-ed, the sec­re­tary laud­ed tremen­dous gains Colom­bia had made against its inter­nal threats and called eco­nom­ic progress essen­tial for these gains to stick. “Colombia’s hard-won free­dom from vio­lence can be sus­tained only through eco­nom­ic pros­per­i­ty,” he wrote.

Gates said a trade pro­mo­tion agree­ment would estab­lish a com­mit­ment to open mar­kets that would increase this essen­tial growth and invest­ment in Colom­bia. “To achieve last­ing peace and sta­bil­i­ty, Colom­bia must have more for­eign invest­ment and free trade,” Gates wrote.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →