Dublin, Ireland (CNN) -- Colombia's former president has said he believes his country is finally winning the war on drugs thanks to the robust policies his government took to combat left-wing guerrillas.
But Alvaro Uribe Velez told CNN that despite the murder of his father in 1983 -- and repeated attempts on his own life -- by FARC guerrillas, who for decades have controlled coca-growing regions in Colombia, he does not hate members of the group.
Speaking at a recent conference in Dublin, Ireland, aimed at tackling the root causes of extremism and terrorism, Uribe, who served as president from 2002 until 2010, added that young people must be discouraged from joining criminal groups in the first place.
"Colombia is winning," he said. "Colombia, at some moment, produced close to 1,000 tons of cocaine per year. In the last year Colombia produced 180. It is a very, very big amount still, but if you look at the trend you see that Colombia is in a very good part of decline. It is possible to win this battle."
Under Uribe, the Colombian army and police repeatedly targeted FARC guerillas, thanks to $7 billion of financial support from the United States. There has also been a push to refocus government efforts on improving conditions in a bid to make organized crime and drug trafficking less appealing to peasants who live in marginalized areas.
Uribe said emotional reconciliation was important too. "FARC killed my father and FARC has killed many, many Colombians. Of course I am sad, I will never forget, but I cannot hate.
"As strict as we were against violence, we were generous to open our hands, to receive with generosity those who made the decision to reintegrate into our society.
"But the most important point is that, in the rule of law, you have to solve the economic, the social and the political agenda with the people living in democracy, not with those in arms."
The former president said the next generation held the key to his country's future. "How can we prevent youngsters from being recruited by organized crime? It needs education, technology, micro-lending and at the same time capital funds to reach the base of the pyramid. The new generations should not have the same nightmare of violence that my generation and others have suffered in my country."