ROME, Italy -- The Norwegian government has vowed to continue supporting the negotiations between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) with a hope that both parties would achieve the common goal of an enduring peace.

Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Forner looks forward to fruitful and constructive talks in the ongoing third round-of-talks at the Holiday Inn in Rome, Italy.

Forner emphasized on the importance of dialogue and negotiations as essential part of the process even in circumstances of armed conflict and strong disagreement.

Norway, he said, recognizes that stable and lasting peace require political processes and negotiated solutions.

While overcoming differences and making peace last are not easy, as the conflict already caused lives and human sufferings for 48 years in the Philippines, Forner said the commitment demonstrated by both panels to do more is already an assurance that the peace process will move forward.

Aware of the differences in contested issues on releases and bilateral ceasefire, Forner wished the parties will overcome challenges within the next few days when substantial items are pushed on the table.

He said, “We will manage our expectations, yet we are rest assured that all of you will do your very best to move the process forward,” he said.

As broker of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations since 2001, Forner said their support will continue for a long term, especially now that the Philippines and Norway are set to enter their 10th year of diplomatic relations in 2018.

He vowed that the Royal Norwegian Government (RNG) would continue to stand by the GRP–NDFP during the peace process.

The Norwegian government even lauded the two sides for their strong commitment to pursue the peace talks as they move to the more challenging and substantial part of the negotiations.

Norwegian Special Envoy Elisabeth Slattum said members of both panels have shown great willingness, dedication, and courage to work for peace in the Philippines.

Seeing the draft documents of the third round-of-talks agenda of both panels, Slattum said GRP and the NDFP are ambitious and want a better future for the Filipinos. Based on the drafts, Slattum is positive both panels are a few steps closer to achieving a common goal of a just and lasting peace.

She also cited a few achievements of the peace talks from the first round. In just a few months, Slattum said, the parties already made history with each side’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, the release of 19 NDFP consultants that boost the peace talks and the reaffirmation of the previous agreements to accelerate a final peace agreement.

For the third round, Slattum hoped both panels would reach consensus on the socioeconomic, political and constitutional agenda items to address the root causes of the conflict.

Amid unresolved issues on releases and the bilateral ceasefire, Slattum urged them to jointly solve problems and work together for a common goal.

Slattum reminded that a peace process is not a zero sum game where there is one winner and one loser.

“A successful peace process is when both parties come out on the winning side,” she said, adding, however, that either side may not perfectly content of the outcomes because some decisions they have to make will not be popular.

“Both sides make painful consensus along the way. Both sides need a great deal of courage,” she pointed out. “Much is at stake for both parties,” she said.

This is why, Slattum said, the peace process needs the patience, support and involvement of the Filipino people.

She said it is not easy to negotiate peace, thus, most attempts failed miserably around the world. Most, she said, find it easier to continue with war rather than to continue working and sacrificing for peace.

Slattum noted that once a peace negotiation is successful, the reward is immeasurable and for the long-term – the winner is the Filipino people. (PNA)