Brussels, 24 October 2018
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I can just add, after two Presidents [Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and Iván Duque, President of Colombia] spoke, that it was really a great pleasure to welcome President [Iván] Duque here in Brussels, on one of his first visits after he took office.
We take it as a signal of friendship and recognition of the important partnership we have between Colombia and the European Union.
As both Presidents said, we discussed how we can strengthen and deepen our partnership and friendship even more and in many different areas, starting from trade, but also on technology, research, innovation, and many other fields.
We will continue to support the implementation of the peace process with our [EU] Trust Fund [for Colombia], with around €100 million already there and additional resources of €60 million just decided. We will accompany this process, hand in hand with the [Colombian] administration.
We have also decided to continue working together to address the Venezuelan issue, not only from the humanitarian point of view – where the European Union has already almost completely delivered the €35 million package of humanitarian aid, both inside and outside Venezuela – but also with work to find a peaceful and democratic solution to the dramatic crisis in Venezuela.
Link to the opening remarks: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I162737
Q [Translated from ES] May I ask you about Saudi Arabia:
Tomorrow, the European Parliament will vote on the arms embargo. Do you think it is important to have a clear position from the European side, and do you understand the position of the Spanish government on sales of weapons to Riyadh?
I had the opportunity to speak about that exactly in the European Parliament yesterday evening. And I also spoke with the Spanish Foreign Minister [Josep Borrell Fontelles] this morning on the phone, just before Prime Minister [of Spain, Pedro] Sánchez addressed the Spanish parliament on this issue. There is a common European Union position on our relations with Saudi Arabia, and most of all on the need for having a full, transparent investigation on the Khashoggi case. You will find this very clearly spelled out in our joint position with the G7 members; it is important for us to coordinate also with our international partners.
What is clear is that we expect more clarity, more transparency and accountability. And what I said already yesterday in the European Parliament is that European Union will consider a coordinated common reaction, looking at the next steps that will come. The steps that have been taken so far don't shed enough light on the case. We expect accountability, which is not revenge. It's not a scape-goating exercise.
We expect full transparency and we are working in this direction with all our international partners.
Q [Translated from ES] Civil society organisations wrote to you, asking you to take into account the need for transparency when it comes to the handling of European funds for the Colombian Peace Process.
Have you talked about that today?
On the use of the EU Trust Fund for Colombia there is full transparency. The focus is on supporting job creation and especially medium and small enterprises and the rural areas to accompany the implementation of the Peace Agreement. There is full transparency. As you know, for the European Union, constant dialogue and support of the civil society organisations is always crucial. This we have discussed with the President. On the Trust Fund's projects, I do not see major problems in the use of the funds, because we have systems in place that might be bureaucratic and lengthy, but are not lacking transparency and accountability.