Ecuador and Colombia formally established this week ties at trade representation level, official sources said in Quito and Bogotá. The two governments announced that “full normalization” will take place when the so called “sensitive” issues have been addressed and solved.
This puts an end to almost 21 months of severed diplomatic ties and a serious diplomatic rift between the neighbouring countries. Ecuador Trade representative Andres Terán, took office in Bogotá, while his Colombia counterpart Ricardo Montenegro, in Quito.
The appointment of trade representatives follows the agreement signed on October 3 in New York, as a consequence of ongoing negotiations that culminated during the UN General Assembly.
Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Fander Falconi said that Teran will be in charge of representing Ecuador’s trade and the country’s interests in Colombia. “Terán must work on promoting bilateral ties, trade and investment and equally important the quick normalization of diplomatic ties" said Falconi.
Regarding the so called “sensitive” issues Falconi said Ecuador would appeal to mechanisms and support from the Carter Centre and from the Organization of American States, OAS.
Relations were severed by Quito when on March 2008 Colombian troops bombed and raided a FARC camp on Ecuadorian border territory where the Colombian guerrilla’s organization number two man, Raúl Reyes was surprised and killed. The total toll of the attack resulted in the deaths of some 26 people including Raul Reyes, his armed guardsmen and several visiting foreign students and journalists.
Last week Defence ministers of Ecuador Xavier Ponce and of Colombia Gabriel Silva re-launched in Bogotá, activities of the Bi-national Borders Commission (COMBIFRON), created in 1996. Both countries also agreed to appoint before next 10 December, military and police attaches as well as a high level group of the COMBIFRON.
Meanwhile Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa during a routine inspection of border areas and the opening of two military outposts again called on Colombia to increase surveillance along their shared frontiers.
"I wish you, dear journalists, bear witness to what we are experiencing here: new military outposts to guard our national sovereignty against whatever" said Correa, in a speech at the Ecuadorean border town of El Palmar.
"This is the reality of the northern border - dozens of Ecuadorean outposts and yet, the Colombian state is unfortunately absent," Correa explained to the military high command and a hundred or so soldiers.
Ecuador and Colombia share a frontier extending some 720km. It is a volatile region highly active with guerrilla groups, paramilitaries and drug traffickers.