BRUSSELS – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos made official on Thursday, together with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, his country’s cooperation agreement as a “global partner” of the alliance, thus becoming the first Latin American nation to attain that “status.”
“Colombia is the first country from Latin America to attain that status in NATO. It’s an enormous privilege,” Santos said in an appearance before the press with Stoltenberg at which he took no questions but said that this is the same status that countries such as Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea have with the military bloc.
The Colombian leader added that “in practical terms,” the accord “means more transparency in military purchases.”
“The fight against corruption is something that NATO has as a priority and we too want all the lessons and good practices to fight against corruption,” said Santos.
He added that Colombia’s new relationship with the alliance is “tight” in terms of Bogota’s cooperation with NATO, which has been under way “for more than a decade.”
“It allows the standardization of procedures, facilitates the access of the Colombian armed forces to a portfolio of abilities and training that NATO has and was the first formal step toward approval of the individual partners program that we’re putting into practice,” Santos added.
He also said that the move will help mitigate “the effects and the consequences of natural disasters caused by climate change ... cyberdefense, risk management and mine removal.”
On the “very important” subject of “women in the armed forces,” Santos said that this is something that interests Bogota, noting that Colombia has more and more women among its leadership and in its military.
Stoltenberg, meanwhile, said that the Latin American country and NATO will exchange experiences in cyberdefense, mine removal and “the promotion of the role of women in peace and security,” adding that – in particular – he expects NATO can learn from Colombia’s experience with mine removal and that knowledge can be applied to the “peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.”