Venezuela concerned about Colombia-NATO cooperation

In a communiqué released on December 29, 2016 by the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government of Caracas voiced “deep concern” about the statements made by the Colombian Defense Minister Luis Carlos Villegas on December 28, 2016 regarding Colombia’s intention to relaunch talks with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to strengthen their relationship.

Following the announcement made by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos relating talks with the OTAN aimed at establishing a cooperation program in the areas of information and the fight against organized crime, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro strongly rejected the initiative and urged Bogotá’s Executive Office to reconsider the decision.

The background

Colombia’s intention to establish an alliance with the NATO dates to June 2013, when the government signed an agreement with the military alliance. It was the first agreement of that nature between the NATO and a Latin American nation, and stipulated, among others, the development of peace and human rights missions, military justice, improvements in defense and security, and anti-drug trafficking efforts.

Back in the day, the governments of Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Venezuela voiced their rejection of the alliance, as they deemed it a threat to the stability of Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the Colombian Congress backed the agreement, which was signed on June 25, 2013 by the government representation. The document was declared inadmissible by the Solicitor’s Office of Colombia almost two years later, in February, 2015, as it found that the purpose was not clearly defined. Later, in June 2015, the Constitutional Court of Colombia repealed the agreement, on the grounds of procedural flaws on the part of the Colombian Congress.

The proposal for a new cooperation and security agreement between Colombia and the OTAN was summited to the Colombian Senate, and it was passed in the second debate on October 26, 2016. Then on Christmas Eve, President Santos announced NATO’s would relaunch talks to start the cooperation program that was suspended. Venezuela’s first reaction came on December 26 in another communiqué.

From El Universal