Colombia, the main regional partner of Romania in Latin America, is the first Latin American country with which the Romanian Agency for International Development Cooperation (RoAid) holds discussions in order to implement development cooperation projects.
Between 3-10 November, a RoAid delegation led by Mr. Cezar Catalin Marin, Deputy-Director General, carried out a working visit to Bogota, Colombia, for meetings with high officials of the new Colombian administration, as well as with UN and EU representatives in this country. The visit received the technical and logistic support of the Romanian Embassy in Colombia through its representatives, Ms. Sena Latif, Chargé d’Affaires, Ms. Alexandra Mihai, Consul, and Ms. Ioana Constantinescu, Home Affairs Attaché.
The working visit agenda included a meeting at the headquarters of the Colombia’s Presidential Cooperation Agency – APC Colombia, with Ms. Angela Ospina of Nicholls, recently appointed director of the institution, who has presented her full readiness to coordinate the RoAid actions in this country. The major action lines recommended by Ms. Angela Ospina of Nicholls to RoAid referred to the development of rural areas, the implementation of the peace agreement and a special focus for the country’s ethnic population, consisting of indigenous people, African descendants and Roma people. Colombia has recently faced a new challenge raised by a wave of migrants from Venezuela, currently estimated to be over one million people, spread across the whole country. In addition to this number are another hundreds of thousands of Colombians resident in Venezuela who have returned in the last two years because of the critical economic situation in the neighboring country.
The issue of migration was the central subject of the meeting between the Police Chief Commissioner Mr. Leonard-Florin Medrega, the general inspector of the General Inspectorate for Immigration (IGI) of the Romanian Ministry of Interior, and Mr. Sebastian Kruger, the general director of the “Migración Colombia” public institution. During the meeting, the two parts discussed the migratory contexts in their countries and ways to share experiences that are taking advantage of the specific expertise of the two countries in the field. The IGI Chief Inspector was also invited by the Colombian authorities to take part, on November 6, to the official ceremony marking the 127th anniversary of the Colombian National Police.
The work visit agenda also included meetings with officials from the National Planning Department (DNP), the Agustin Codazzi Geographic Institute (IGAC), the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Interior, the Civil Service Department, the Department of Social Prosperity (DPS), the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare, the Presidential Department for Women’s Equality, the Ministry of Housing, the Transparency Secretariat and the Colombian Institute for Agriculture. In all of these, the sectoral areas of collaboration with the Romanian homologous institutions were analyzed, based on the needs identified and the expertise accumulated in the respective areas on both countries.
The working visit took place on a crucial moment for the coming years, shortly after the appointment of the new administration under the leadership of President Ivan Duque. Currently, the new administration is working on the approval of the National Development Plan (NDP) for 2018-2022, whose pillars are legality, entrepreneurship and equity. The objectives of this National Development Plan are to reduce poverty, inequality and to ensure equity in the Colombian society.
Finally, the RoAid delegation met the EU and UN Delegations in Colombia. During the discussion with H.E. Ms. Patricia Llombart, EU Ambassador to Colombia, RoAid confirmed Romania’s support for Colombia’s cooperation relations during the EU presidency, as well as the interest in accessing European cooperation funds for large-scale projects leading to development of priority sectors. Her Excellency recommended that the RoAid delegation also take into account the local specificity in the implementation of the projects and the experience acquired by the main donors in Colombia.
During the meeting at the UN Headquarters in Colombia, on November 6, the challenges that the peace agreement implementation with FARC groups have raised were analyzed, as well as the need to step up initiatives to strengthen democratic institutions, build peace, eradicate trafficking drugs and prevent violence against the civilian population. In this regard, the UN Office in Colombia has assumed the coordinating role of the donor states’ action in Colombia to maximize the positive impact of the projects being carried out.
At the meetings during the RoAid’s working visit to Colombia, the Deputy Director General, Mr. Cezar Catalin Marin, reaffirmed Romania’s political support to the peace process and the willingness of our country to participate in the post-conflict reconstruction in line with the high level dialogue during the UN General Assembly in September, between the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Teodor Melescanu and the Colombian counterpart, Mr. Carlos Holmes Trujillo. The collaboration priorities with Colombia will take into account the guidelines set by the new administration of the President Ivan Duque and will follow the direction and coordination of the Colombia’s Presidential Cooperation Agency (APC) and of the international organizations acting in this country.