From the Philippine News Agency (Nov 25): Norway agrees to be peace facilitator between PHL and NDFP
Norway believes that the Philippines would benefit strongly from a peace agreement between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), and from implementing the peace agreement in Mindanao, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende on Friday said.
“The rewards of peace will be great. It will be a bumpy ride but rest assured, Norway will stand by for the long haul, the country with great opportunities moving forward. We see the economic growth is now the strongest in Asia, and Asia also the being fastest-growing continent in the world,” Brende said in his keynote speech during the 4th European Ambassador’s Forum at the Diamond Hotel in Manila.
He said they knew that “there can be no sustainable development without peace because we know that preventing and resolving violent conflicts is a cost-efficient way of fostering development and avert human sufferings.”
“This is why we engage in efforts to prevent and solve violent conflicts either through the support of national organizations or directly as facilitators in peace processes,” he explained after playing a key role in the peace process by making themselves as facilitator to end the more than four decades and considered as the longest-running insurgencies in Asia.
“This conflict has created deep wounds. It has caused human sufferings and it has caused a lack of development in the affected areas. After years of little progress in the process, we now see a renewed willingness from both parties to work upon a solution to the conflict,” he pointed out.
He said there can be no sustainable development without peace because they know that preventing and resolving violent conflicts is a cost-efficient way of fostering development and avert human sufferings.
The Foreign Minister claimed that the reason they engage in efforts to prevent and solve violent conflicts either through the support of national organizations or directly as facilitators in peace processes.
According to Brende, “achieving peace is high on President Duterte’s agenda and compliments also to Secretary [Jesus] Dureza and also to Secretary [Perfecto] Yasay for your commitments. I think the steps taken by the President can result in a historical breakthrough,” ne noted.
.”But the job is not done yet. We will meet again in late January and we will then have the third round of formal talks. Both steps have been taken to bring the peace process forward, as mentioned, including the declaration of unilateral ceasefires that have held until today,” he stressed.
For his part, Dureza told reporters that the third round of talks will no longer be done in Norway due to the inclement weather.
“Thick snow and negative degree of weather made us decide to do it somewhere in the Southern part of Europe. May be in Spain or in Italy. It is not yet final. We will make the proper announcement before the target date,” Dureza explained.
Asked if they have timeline to wrap up peace talks with NDFP, Dureza declined to give specific dates as he claims they will do it as soon as possible.
“The marching orders of President [Rodrigo] Duterte . is ASAP. I think the sentiment across the table that we would like to do it quickly as soon as possible while the President is still the president of the country so that there’s a lot of time yet in implementing agreement,” he emphasized.
He added that implementation is more important than the signing.
“Signing is just a symbolic action. What we need is full implementation to attain long lasting peace,” he concluded.