Saturday, March 12, 2016

On Colombia, Inner City Press Asks German Envoy Tom Koenigs of Impunity and Funding

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, March 12 -- Even with the deadline for an agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC being pushed back, Germany's Special Envoy on Colombia Tom Koenigs spoke with the Press on March 11.

He had, he said, met with UN Under Secretaries General Feltman, Mulet, Ladsous and Khare, about the upcoming UN mission to be headed by Frenchman Jean Arnault. He noted the history of cultural exchange between Germany and Colombia," saying that "Germans read a lot of Garcia Marquez."

 Inner City Press asked Koenigs about the cost of the peace process - and how much Germany would contribute - and about impunity, including in relation to the process, such as it is, in Sri Lanka.

  Koenigs among other things said:

To Inner City Press' financial question: "Germany has close relations to Colombia and is ready to support the peace process politically and through technical cooperation in a number of areas. Loan of 300 million Euros by German KfW Development Bank. In addition: 50 million in technical and development cooperation, plus  approximately 1 million EUR per year for bilateral demining programs. Also: science and technology transfer through cooperation of universities in the two countries."

To Inner City Press' impunity question: "Those responsible for war crimes have to be brought to justice. Colombia is establishing a transitional justice system and is also a party to the Rome Statute. Impunity is not an option. However, prisons are not the only possible method of corrections. There may be alternatives which could be explored."

  Inner City Press had and has some questions about those not part of the FARC negotiations in Cuba - more on that in another story.

Germany is running again for UN Security Council for 2019-20. By the election in 2018, the 2015 Person of the Year award to Chancellor Angela Merkel from TIME Magazine may have faded in memory. Still, its economy is larger than the two other European countries with Permanent seats on the Council; it is about to send 650 peacekeepers to MINUSMA in Mali, on top its current UN peacekeeping contribution of 150 military, 35 police and 60 civilians.

   On January 21 Germany's Permanent Representative to the UN Harald Braun held a background briefing on his Mission's 22nd floor. Inner City Press asked three questions and afterward got permission to publish the following responses from Ambassador Braun, on Germany's positions:

  On Libya, on which Inner City Press asked whether the recent slew of good-news press statements by the UN Secretary General, the Security Council and many states really mean that the corner has been turned, Ambassador Braun called the situation an“uphill struggle” but said that UN envoy Martin Kobler (who separately told Inner City Press he has a return ticket to the German foreign ministry,video here) has “offered the right instruments.”

  On Yemen, on which Inner City Press has previously quoted sources in Sana'a on Germany's Bettina Muscheidt as a possible replacement UN envoy, Braun called the situation “complicated,” adding that “we regret the exclusion of the human rights envoy.”

On Burundi, Germany's Ambassador Braun said, “It is important to dialogue, especially with countries that have human rights issues. We believe that in the current situation it is right for the Security Council to put pressure on the government in Burundi.”

Harald Braun in UNSC, eye on 2019-20, UN Photo/Loey Felipe

  And on North Korea and its nuclear test, Braun said, “I believe that China was just as surprised as other Council members... It is my expectation that China will agree to a targeted set of sanctions.”

  On this last, no draft has yet been circulated even to all Permanent Five members of the Security Council, they say. Germany, along with a number of other countries, would like to have such a seat. The above are its positions at the UN, on which we'll have more. Watch this site.