Belize and Guatemala signed a major new diplomatic initiative today at OAS Headquarters in Washington DC.
Foreign Ministers Wilfred Elrington and Fernando Carrera, and the OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, signed an agreement entitled "Road Map and Plan of Action." They discussed the agreement in Belize two weeks ago and the idea behind it is to embark on a new course of confidence building, moving towards consensus building in the populace of both countries, so that when a referendum is held - whenever that is - it has a better chance of success.
All 3 officials spoke to the media after the signing, and here's what Foreign Affairs Minister Wilfred Elrington had to say about it:
Hon. Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs
"This occasion evidences the commitment and the resolve of the Government of Guatemala and of Belize with the support of the American States to use our best efforts to develop that climate of trust and confidence that is absolutely essential for a successful resolution of the Guatemala claim to Belize."
"In deed whereas we intend to have a judicial resolution of the claim, a judicial resolution would really be empty if in fact we did not have an excellent relationship between our two countries, one that is characterize by trust, confidence and interaction between our two peoples. For all of us here in this room, it's a question of enlighten self-interest for us see a successful resolution of the Belize/Guatemala claim."
The hope is that both countries can develop joint projects in the areas of the environment, security, labor, immigration, health and education.
The Secretary General said that the initiative moves both countries towards, quote, "a more stable relationship."
Foreign Minister Elrington said the initiative is "evidence of the commitment and resolution of the governments of Belize and Guatemala…to develop the essential climate of trust and confidence."
Foreign Minister Carrera said that the agreement will, quote, " contribute to ensuring that for next year this relationship will not only remain as peaceful as it has been for many years, but also that this positive relationship will be strengthened."
He adds that with the Road Map agreed, he said, quote, "we are taking the first steps so that when the Court issues a ruling, we are all willing to accept and follow up on it."