Colombian president ‘honoured’ to receive Tipperary peace award

Juan Manuel Santos acknowledged for role in ending over 50 years of violence

Colombia’s outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos is due to receive the award at a ceremony in Tipperary late this year Photograph: Reuters/Carlos Julio Martinez

Colombia’s outgoing President Juan Manuel Santos is due to receive the award at a ceremony in Tipperary late this year Photograph: Reuters/Carlos Julio Martinez

 

The President of Colombia has said he is “honoured” to be named the recipient of the 2017 Tipperary International Peace Award, for his efforts in bringing peace to his country and ending over 50 years of guerilla fighting.

The Tipperary Peace Convention made the announcement on Wednesday morning that its latest annual prize will be presented to President Juan Manuel Santos at a ceremony in Tipperary later this year.

“As President Santos prepares to step down as President of Colombia after eight years in office,” Tipperary Peace Convention honorary secretary Martin Quinn said, “it is appropriate to recognise the President’s efforts and tremendous vision to bring peace to his country through an agreement that, after almost five years of talks, put an end to more than 50 years of fighting, and has seen some 10,000 former fighters disarm and begin to enter civilian life and 10 former FARC leaders take their seats in Congress.”

An initial peace deal with the FARC revolutionary group was rejected in a referendum but negotiations were renewed and a new deal was signed and ratified by Congress.

“President Santos leaves Colombia a much better and decidedly more peaceful country than when he assumed office and without doubt history will judge him kindly for his efforts,” Mr Quinn said.

Irish significance

President Santos said in a statement that he made an official visit to Belfast in November of 2016, weeks before the Colombian Peace Agreement came into effect. “Ireland has been and continues to be an inspiration for countries trying to pursue their own peace processes.

“The fact that the achievements of the Colombian peace process are being acknowledged by such a prestigious award in Ireland, has particular significance for Colombians. I am honoured to be able to accept the Tipperary International Peace Award on behalf of all the victims of the conflict and the many that have worked tirelessly to bring about peace in Colombia”.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney, welcomed the new, saying President Santos showed “remarkable courage, commitment and resolve” throughout the negotiations between the Colombian government and FARC. “This agreement has given Colombians the prospect of a brighter, more peaceful future, with historic strides having already been made in the implementation of the peace accords.”

Previous recipients of the Tipperary International Peace Award include: former South African president Nelson Mandela; former US president Bill Clinton; former prime minister of Lebanon Rafic Hariri; former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto; former US ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith and her brother Ted Kennedy; former president of Ireland Mary McAleese and her husband senator Martin McAleese; and Pakistani schoolgirl and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai.