12 Weeks After Istanbul Meetings – Sarstoon Mechanism Still Pending

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Updated: August 15, 2016

William Mason and Hurricane Earl have taken centre stage in the last month giving a break to the Belize/Guatemala issue.  On August 8, we told you of an agreement signed between Belize and Guatemala as it relates to the exchange of prisoners currently serving sentences to be deported back to their respective countries to finish out their sentence.  That signed agreement comes out of the roadmap geared at strengthening bilateral relations which was signed in Washington DC on January 24, 2014 by the two foreign ministers.  Outside of this agreement, however, there seems to be little, if any, progress on the development of a draft mechanism for the Sarstoon that was agreed upon during bilateral talks in Istanbul, Turkey.  Foreign Affairs Minister, Wilfred Elrington spoke on the matter.

WILFRED ELRINGTON

“Unfortunately we are not moving as fast as we would have wanted. We would have wanted it to be drafted yesterday but the Guatemalans were very insistent from the very beginning that they do not think that we could do anything before December. We are not happy with that, we are trying to question but it takes two to dance, we can’t do anything unless they agree to do it along with us.”

One of the major goals in the entire Belize/Guatemala dispute is to reach the stage of the referendum where the voters will decide whether or not the matter should reach the International Court of Justice.  Belize has not made a move on pushing the referendum as it is a matter still before the Guatemalan Congress.  Minister Elrington says Belize will wait until the Guatemalan Congress makes a decision on the matter.

WILFRED ELRINGTON

“We will not move forward on the referendum until we have the mechanisms in place. The Prime Minister that is the last instruction he gave. The Prime Minister and the Cabinet were of the view that we should not proceed beyond that until we have the mechanism for the Sarstoon in place.”

The meetings in Istanbul, Turkey were held on May 23 and 24.