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Belize Reports to CARICOM on Affairs with Guatemala

It is very rare that updates on the status of discussions between Belize and Guatemala reach the media via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Belize Press Office.  On occasion we do get to meet with the Foreign Minister, Wilfred Elrington but even so it is not enough to be kept abreast of where we currently stand with Guatemala on the territorial dispute.  Tonight, however, through an update from the CARICOM website, we can tell you that the matter did come up at the 20th Meeting of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR) which was held last week.  Several key points were presented including the matter of the Special Agreement.  According to the report online, both Belize and Guatemala have completed their internal procedures required by the Special Agreement in order to take the claim from Guatemala to the ICJ.  It is uncertain as to what those internal procedures entail but for those thinking that the Government would be able to take the matter to the ICJ without a referendum that is not the case as the Council, during this recent meeting, did urge both countries to proceed with the required referendum as early as possible.  There is also the matter of the design and development of a mechanism of co-operation for the Sarstoon River.  This mechanism was to be completed about six months ago as was agreed to in the bilateral meetings held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2016.  The matter remains undone and with that the council urged the two countries and the OAS to redouble their efforts in getting it done.  The funding for the OAS also came up as the council expressed support to the organization and appealed to the international community to continue supporting the offices of the adjacency zone in order to keep it functional.  The COFCOR meeting was held in Bridgetown, Barbados under the Chairmanship of Senator the Honourable Maxine McClean, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Barbados.