Speech at the signing ceremony in the Philippine peace process

Foreign Minister Børge Brende's speech at the signing ceremony for the agreement between representatives of the Philippine Government and the communist movement National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Oslo 26 August 2016.

Dear friends,

Honourable Secretary Dureza, Honourable Panel Chairs Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Luis Jalandoni, Honourable Members of the Negotiating Panels, Distinguished Delegates and Colleagues, Friends of the Peace Process,

I am very pleased to be back here at Holmenkollen Park Hotel for these peace negotiations.

This is the third time I'm here this week – first for the grand opening, then for good discussions with the two parties on Tuesday, and now for the signing ceremony, and the successful conclusion of the week.

This is the first time the parties have met for formal talks since February 2011.

In just a few days in Oslo, there has been a major breakthrough in these negotiations.

You have agreed on issues that have blocked this process for decades.

The joint statement you are about to sign, is unprecedented and a very important first step towards lasting peace.

While I will leave it to the parties themselves to describe more in detail what has been achieved, I will just note that there has been strong progress on several issues – from the question of agreement to recommend amnesty, to the agreement of unilateral and indefinite cease fires.

We further welcome the agreement to accelerate the pace of the peace process. Norway is committed to continuing to assist you on your road towards peace.

I wish to congratulate the Panels and delegations on the remarkable commitment you have shown.

The trust between you seems to continue to grow. Both parties deserve acknowledgement and a great amount of respect for showing courage and willingness to take bold, but necessary steps to make this possible.

This makes me hopeful and optimistic for the road ahead towards a lasting and sustainable peace after 47 years of armed conflict peace, and 30 years of peace efforts.

It has been a good week for Norway as a third party facilitator – first with the final peace agreement signed between the Colombian government and the FARC. And now with the formal resumption of the negotiations between the Philippine government and the Communist movement.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Oslo later this fall.

The first round of formal talks has been concluded successfully. Congratulations!