Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said in an interview published by Semana magazine that he is afraid of losing the chance to bring an end to the country's internal armed conflict at a time he considers ideal for the peace process his government is set to pursue with the FARC guerrillas within the next month in Oslo.
Santos spoke with extreme caution and prudence, attitudes that he has evidenced since he announced on Aug. 27 that "exploratory conversations" had been begun with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, guerrilla group.
"(What I'm afraid of is) that we might lose a real chance to end the conflict. Things are done when they can be done and this is the time," the president said in response to a question about his greatest fears.
"The stars are aligned to end the conflict," Santos said, adding that therefore he had sent his delegates to "agree in writing with the (FARC) on some realistic conditions for beginning negotiations."
The president expressed his confidence that the peace process can be concluded "in ... months, not years," given that the first exploratory phase, which lasted from February until Aug. 23, established "a good basis in general agreement for the end of the conflict."
"Now, we're also agreeing that we're going to periodically review the advances. If things are not moving, we're simply not going to continue," he warned, adding that the measure will be "to quickly get to concrete agreements" via a good working pace.
In the fact of tensions and potential ruptures in the talks, Santos said that "the FARC has said that they're not thinking of ... (leaving) the table until an agreement is reached."
"We're going to work without interruption in Oslo and Havana so that this becomes a reality," Santos said.
Oslo will be the site where the parties will begin the dialogue phase, which guerrilla spokesmen say will start on Oct. 8, while the Cuban capital will host the rest of the dialogue sessions. EFE