Norway appoints new GRP-NDFP talks facilitator

The Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) appointed a new special envoy to the Philippine peace process, its embassy in Manila announced Tuesday.

Diplomat Idun Tvedt is appointed as the new facilitator to the peace process between the Government of the [Republic of the] Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), replacing Elisabeth Slåttum who had been the most successful to hold the post so far.

The RNG is the Third Party Facilitator of the GRP-NDFP peace process since 2001.

A lawyer by education, Tvedt has made a career in the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the areas of human rights and peace, the RNG Embassy said.

“In the past few years, she worked at the Norwegian Embassy in Bogota where she was a member of the facilitation team responsible for the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC [Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia],” it added.

Outgoing and incoming. Slattum (left) and Tvedt (right). [Photo by Dr. J. Alcantara]

Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner said Tvedt serves as an encouragement to their embassy in Manila as it assists the peace process between the Manila government and the Leftist revolutionary movement.

“[Tvedt] has a high standing in the Norwegian Foreign Service and her knowledge and experience in peace and reconciliation matters are truly impressive,” Førner said. earlier reported Tvedt is scheduled to arrive in the Philippines Sunday for a two-day visit.

Førner said he is sad to see Slåttum go after her successful three-year term as special envoy.

Successful facilitator

Slåttum took over as special envoy from fellow diplomat Tore Hattrem in 2014 when formal peace negotiations between the Benigno Aquino government and the NDFP had already been suspended for more than three years.

The Rodrigo Duterte government resumed formal peace negotiations with the NDFP in August 2016.

Four formal talks had been held since in Norway, Italy and The Netherlands with substantial agreements on agrarian reform and rural development.

Duterte however cancelled the scheduled fifth round of negotiations in The Netherlands last May after failing to convince the NDFP to sign a bilateral ceasefire agreement before talks could continue.

Duterte, center, with the GRP negotiating team last Thursday. (Malacañan photo)

Duterte has hinted about resuming formal negotiations in a recent speech in Misamis Oriental while Malacañan Palace has also released photographs of the President meeting his negotiating team last Thursday.

The NDFP for its part said it has always remained open to resuming the negotiations.

“The NDFP had always been open to continue with the fifth round of the formal talks, which he (Duterte) has scuttled in May 2017,” NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)