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#513783 - 05/17/16 05:53 AM Talks In Turkey: There Will Be Sarstoon Negotiations
Marty Offline
So, will this weekend's Chiquibul shooting cause any difficulties for the negotiations between Belize and Guatemala? As you are aware, the Governments of both countries have been engaged in talks about a peace keeping protocol for the Sarstoon River.

Well, tonight, we can finally report that there is meaningful progress. In a midday press release, Government announced that talks between both countries for a Sarstoon agreement will take place on this coming Saturday, May 21.

They will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, where Elrington will be travelling, after he attends the Inauguration ceremonies for the new President of Taiwan. Ambassador Alexis Rosado, and who ever the Leader of the Opposition names as his representative, most likely Eamon Courtenay will represent him. Guatemala's Foreign Minister, Carlos Raul Morales, is expected to head his country's delegation.

Today's release also stressed the commitment that both countries gave to the OAS Secretary General in the Washington meetings which happened 2 weeks ago May 4. That comment is to, quote, "find a way forward regarding the Sarstoon", end quote, which will "eliminate the military tension at the Sarstoon created by the maintenance of the respective positions of Belize and Guatemala regarding rights over the river…"

The Government of Belize is expecting that if the Istanbul, Turkey meetings don't proceed toward any immediate final agreement, the OAS will host follow-up meetings in Washington.

On Saturday - before the announcement was made - when we asked Elrington if the latest Chiquibul incident will affect these talks - he was very cagey:

Daniel Ortiz
"The 30-day ban is fast closing and the last time we spoke with the Prime Minister he seemed fatigue that nothing, no measurable progress has been made towards that protocol being finalized. Can you give us an update on that and is there any further negotiations to be taking place between you and the Guatemalan foreign ministry?"

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"I will simply repeat that we have the matter under control. You take it from me, we have the matters under control. It's a responsibility which we have and which we take very seriously. So we do have it under control."

Daniel Ortiz
"Is there to your mind something tangible for us to hold on to that it will take place, because the Prime Minister has indicated that if there is no show of goodwill, he is minded to repeal the 30-day ban before it's closed?"

Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"The Prime Minister is very mature, sound, sensible. He knows what is going on and he is going to do the right thing. I won't say more than that. I think you could rest assure that he will do the right thing."

The Sarstoon Statutory Instrument, which enforces the Barrow Government's 30-day ban on the river, expires in less than two weeks.

Channel 7

#513785 - 05/17/16 06:08 AM Re: Talks In Turkey: There Will Be Sarstoon Negotiations [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Guatemalan Archbishop Sends Message To Jimmy Morales's Government

Here in Belize as well as Guatemala, the Territorial Dispute that come along with the incursions at the Chiquibul Forest Reserve and the aggression lived at the Sarstoon continues to make headlines. But while there are those across the Western Border that believe that Guatemala has a right to claim portions of Belize, others think differently as in the case of Guatemalan Archbishop Oscar Vian.

The Guatemalan newspaper, Prensa Libre, today issued a report where Archbishop Vian speaks out about the Belize/ Guatemala territorial dispute saying that it should have been resolved over 40 years ago and that it is now only being used to divert attention from the daily problems that Guatemala faces. Here is that report.


Archbishop Vian made a Call to Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales to strengthen dialogue with Congress and other Guatemalan Executives Law and Political Parties to decide what is best for their country regarding the dispute.

The report ends with the Archbishop condemning any threats and reprimands Guatemala for resorting to threats instead of dialogue. According to him, those actions are reprehensible and only take us back to the early years of killing people for a discussion to end.

#513846 - 05/20/16 05:46 AM Re: Talks In Turkey: There Will Be Sarstoon Negotiations [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Opposition Will Be Represented at Istanbul Talks

Very high level delegations from Belize and Guatemala will be meeting in Istanbul, Turkey on Saturday to discuss the Sarstoon. That’s the venue slated for the talks surrounding what has become a key factor in the bi-lateral road ahead. Tensions in the Sarstoon are at an all-time high – actually to the point where even the B.D.F. are being harassed by the Guatemalan Armed Forces, and G.O.B. has passed a law prohibiting civilians entry to the river. So the meeting this Saturday is critical. There was no Opposition representative at the last bi-lateral meeting because…well, they weren’t invited. But this time is different. Today, P.U.P. Leader John Briceño told News Five today that the Opposition will be sending a representative to Istanbul because where this issue is concerned, it is important that Belize speak with one voice.

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“The meeting in Istanbul is a very important meeting. It is the first official meeting we are going to have between Belize and Guatemala after the talks broke down when they presented their version of the protocols, something that we totally one hundred percent object to in the P.U.P.  So now that they have decided that they have the opportunity to meet again in the next few days, we will send a representative and our representative as I mentioned before is Senator Eamon Courtenay and I think that he will be travelling tomorrow to join the team.”

John Briceño


“Sir last week when the Prime Minister gave his press conference he used words like cautious optimism. He said there had been a breakthrough in the talks that Minister Elrington had held with Carlos Raul Morales. I understand that there was a deal that you were to briefed as well as Eamon Courtenay was to have been briefed on those meetings. After being briefed do you share his sense of cautious optimism?”

John Briceño

“I think that we need to look at it from the perspective of the Guatemalans. Guatemala is having major internal problems and as usual they try to use this issue of wanting to take over Belize to divert attention from their real problems. We know that tens of thousands of Guatemalans have been on the streets protesting the government. They have pretty much a failed government. Does that lead us to be cautiously optimistic? Well whenever there are talks there has to be some sense of optimism, just the idea that we are talking. And I think we are starting to put across very strongly our position that what the Guatemalans are doing is wrong, that there has never been a protocol as to what they claim that the B.D.F. needs to ask permission to go on the Sarstoon, so just the idea that we are talking I think there’s some sense of optimism.”

Channel 5

#513934 - 05/24/16 12:41 PM Re: Talks In Turkey: There Will Be Sarstoon Negotiations [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and Guatemala Meet in Istanbul, Turkey to Address Matters in their Bilateral Agenda

On the occasion of the World Humanitarian Summit held by the United Nations Secretary General, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize and Guatemala, Hon. Wilfred Elrington and Mr. Carlos Raúl Morales, and in the presence of Magdalena Talamas, Representative of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), held a working meeting in the City of Istanbul, Turkey on the 23 and 24 May 2016, and discussed several issues under their bilateral agenda.

Both Foreign Ministers once again expressed their commitment to peace and good faith. In this vein, they reiterated that the existing Territorial, Insular and Maritime differendum should be definitively resolved by the International Court of Justice, once approved by the required referenda.

They expressed that as long as this process continues and even after its conclusion, it is necessary that both promote and develop relations of good neighborliness that conduce to peace and stability and that promote the economic development of both peoples. In this vein, they underlined the importance of the thirteen agreements signed in Placencia, Belize in December 2014 that have contributed to the development and strengthening of their bilateral relations.

The Ministers recognized the need to avoid incidents between the two countries that affect the process of confidence building as agreed in 2000, 2003 and 2005. In this context they affirmed the need to work more in the development of building confidence, especially between the Armed Forces of both countries, including the possibility of having joint training for the troops responsible for patrolling the Adjacency Zone.

Both Ministers recognized the urgent need for and committed to working on the design and development of a mechanism for cooperation in the Sarstoon River, which should include the participation of relevant institutions of both Parties and be coordinated by both Foreign Ministries with the participation of the Organization of American States.

Recognizing the importance of the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone and of the urgent and critical need for funding to maintain this Office, they undertook to jointly pursue efforts to source such funding.

At the conclusion of the meeting, both Foreign Ministers congratulated each other for the agreements reached and expressed their commitment towards dialogue and the creation of a positive bilateral agenda, in line with the advancement of the process mentioned in the Special Agreement to submit the Territorial, Insular and Maritime differendum to the International Court of Justice signed in December 2008.

#513947 - 05/25/16 06:05 AM Re: Talks In Turkey: There Will Be Sarstoon Negotiations [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Bilateral Talks In Istanbul; FM’s Vague About Details

Belize-Guatemala talks were held yesterday and today in Istanbul, Turkey. On Sunday, Belize's Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington and his Guatemalan counterpart Carlos Raul Morales held what we are told was a four-hour working session in the margins of the World Humanitarian Summit.

The business of the meeting was concentrated into that session at the Hilton Bomonti Hotel in Istanbul. The Belize delegation was led by Foreign Minister Elrington, accompanied by Ambassador to Guatemala, Alexis Rosado, and Representative of the Leader of the Opposition, Eamon Courtenay. The Guatemalan side was represented by Foreign Minister Morales, and the Guatemalan Ambassador to Belize, Manuel Barillas, among other officials. Magdalena Talamas, the Representative of the OAS Secretary General, acted as mediator.

After that bilateral meeting, today, the delegations paid a courtesy call on the Turkish Foreign Minister since his country hosted the Humanitarian Summit, and yesterday's bilateral talks.

This morning, both Belize and Guatemala sent out an identical 450 word joint press release in English and Spanish, which contains very few specifics. It does mention that both ministers recognize the need to avoid incidents between the 2 countries as part of the confidence building measures.

The topic, which is at the forefront of everyone's mind, is mentioned almost as a footnote. That's the protocol for shared use of the Sarstoon River and the releases notes, "Both Ministers recognized the urgent need for and committed to working on the design and development of a mechanism for cooperation in the Sarstoon River, which should...be coordinated by both Foreign Ministries with the participation of the Organization of American States." End quote.

The release also speaks generally about military to military cooperation. The release says, quote, "The Ministers recognized the need to avoid incidents between the two countries…that affect the process of confidence building…they affirmed the need to work more...especially between the Armed Forces of both countries, including the possibility of having joint training for the troops responsible for patrolling the Adjacency Zone." End quote.

Of course, all this is just a start, but the release does not say if or when meetings will be held to flesh out these proposals. But it does say that both Ministers did no less, than, quote, "congratulated each other for the agreements reached and expressed their commitment towards dialogue and the creation of a positive bilateral agenda, in line with the advancement of the process...to submit the…differendum to the International Court of Justice." End quote.

Channel 7

#514002 - 05/27/16 06:08 AM Re: Talks In Turkey: There Will Be Sarstoon Negotiations [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Talks in Istanbul, Turkey

Earlier this week, a delegation led by Foreign Minister Wilfred Elrington met with his Guatemalan counterpart in Istanbul, Turkey. Earlier this week Cabinet announced the statutory instrument limiting movement on the Sarstoon River would be revoked since the talks proved successful. Yesterday Prime Minister Barrow was asked about the meeting.


“There’s an agreement now that we will negotiate a formal protocol for the Sarstoon and in the meantime clearly Belizeans can feel free to go to the Sarstoon that is why we have revoked the statutory instrument that was in place.”


“Is there any timeline for that?”


“For how soon the formal protocol to be fleshed out? No as quickly as can possibly be done but there is no fixed timeline.”

Senator Eamon Courtenay was a part of the meetings as the representative for the Opposition, People’s United Party. Courtenay said it is important to see how things play out on the ground following the conclusion of the meetings.


“It’s important for us to see what happens. Saying something in a diplomatic meeting is one thing, the proof of the pudding is in the eating so we need to see what happens beginning now when we exercise our rights to use the Sarstoon when our citizens and when the military exercise their right. We expect based on the understanding at the meeting that they will be entitled to do so as we have always done. Now as you say the important thing is whether or not the Guatemalan Forces in the Sarstoon are going to respect that. We are hopeful that they will, we insisted that the information be communicated not only to the top of their military but to the soldiers and naval forces in the area so there should be no defense that the message didn’t reach the people in the field and that type of thing. We expect full compliance and respect for our territorial rights.”

As has been reported, the PUP is challenging the new law that limited movement on the Sarstoon. Senator Courtenay was asked if the suit would be withdrawn given the fact that the law has been repealed.


“It’s not moot and it’s not pointless because we expect the challenge to continue. You see what you have there in our view is an unlawful exercise of state power. As I said before it is bad policy and it is bad in law. The Public Safety Act has a specific criteria for the Governor General to exercise that power to restrain people from moving in the Sarstoon or anywhere else. We believe that the facts were not there for him to do it and therefore he acted unlawfully and we have to set a precedence. The court has to speak to the circumstances in which that kind of power can be exercised in the future so it’s a very important case, it violated our constitutional rights and the constitutional rights of many Belizeans who attempted to go there and we ask the court to still pronounce on it for the future.”

As it relates to the ongoing talks with Guatemala, Senator Courtenay said Ambassadors Alexis Rosado and Ambassador Manuel Roldan will meet shortly to set the time table for how the discussions will proceed.



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