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Why Norway brokers the peace talks

OSLO, Norway – For the past 20 years, the Royal Norwegian Government has been serving as third party facilitator in the long-drawn peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.

Yet, not a few have asked why this Scandinavian country has immersed itself in the mission to help end an armed conflict that has taken more than 40 years to resolve.

Perhaps, it is not far-fetched that a country, which boasts of hosting the annual Nobel Peace Prize, should stand at the forefront of undertakings that could lead to settlement of armed conflicts.

But for Norway’s Special Envoy Elisabeth Slattum, there are more reasons why her country has such a strong and deep commitment to peace processes.

“Our foreign policy, traditionally and historically, has been based on liberal democratic values – doing our contribution to making the world a better place,” she said on the eve of yesterday’s resumption of the formal peace talks between the GRP and the communist group at the Scandic Holmenkollen Park Hotel here.

Interestingly, the ceremony marking the start of the peace negotiations that was stalled in 2014 was the Nobel Room, named after Alexander Nobel in whose honor the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize is given.

“Also, Norway is a very wealthy country. We’ve been blessed with natural resources, so there’s a feeling of moral obligation to share that wealth and do our contribution in the world to peace and development,” she said.

With a population of only five million, Norway is among the Top 10 richest countries in the world with a per capita income of $68,430 or around P3,200,000.

Slattum also underscored that Norway would like to foster development in other countries “through the very cost-efficient way of contributing to peace processes.”

“We see it in our own interest to prevent conflict and to work to solve conflict. We live in a globalized world right now, even with problems that seem far away can affect us now. In terms of terrorism, refugee streams, and drug trafficking, among others. That’s why it is in our interest to contribute to peace processes,” she said.

Besides, Slattum pointed out that dialogues and negotiations remain as the most viable way of resolving conflicts.

“Over the last 30 years, only 10 percent of the world’s conflicts have been solved through military victories. The vast majority are solved through dialogue. So there is a strong commitment, strong engagement from the top, (with) a consensus from all political parties (in Norway) that (dialogue) is important,” Slattum said.

And while she maintained that RNG would always want to keep a low profile in trying to resolve disputes, it could count on the recent resolution of the 52-year-old conflict between the Columbia and FARC guerillas as one of its biggest successes.

But Slattum downplayed Norway’s role in the resolution of the Columbian crisis as a third party “that assists with logistics, hosts meetings, and creates spaces for dialogue, communication, and trust-building.” (ROCKY NAZARENO)