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May 26, 2016

P.U.P. Senator Eamon Courtenay Discusses Istanbul Talks

The much anticipated Istanbul talks are over and done with, but there is no definitive resolution and certainly no protocols coming out of those very high-level discussions. A release sent out by government speaks of recommitment to peace and stability and the recognition that there is need for protocols governing the Sarstoon – not exactly earth-shattering revelations. Still, we are told that there is some measure of progress coming out of the talks. News Five sat down today with Senator Eamon Courtenay, the Opposition’s Representative on the Belize delegation to try to get some idea of exactly what that progress is. We start tonight’s coverage of the Istanbul talks with the positions placed on the negotiation table by both parties, and a scenario which Courtenay says will be difficult to resolve.

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Opposition’s Representative, Belize Delegation

“Let’s be clear. They have put their claim from the Sibun down. But in my experience, until fairly recently, I have never seen Guatemala exercising their quote, unquote, right to the sovereignty of the entire Sarstoon and stopping Belizeans and others from going in there. My understanding is that insofar as they are concerned that is an issue that cannot be determined by the parties and can only be resolved by judicial determination. Therefore that is the area where the great divide is between us. We are absolutely clear and categorical that Belize is entitled to its share of the Sarstoon and the Sarstoon Island. And it is going to require some significant and serious effort to agree a protocol that will respect our rights, respect our protection from international law and yet have a protocol that Guatemala is prepare to accept between now and whenever if the people of Belize and Guatemala decide to go to the ICJ to resolve this issue legally. I do not believe that it is a simple and easy issue to resolve, but it needs resolution because we need certainty. The Belize Defence Force needs certainty on that river. Belizeans who use the river and who want to visit the river need certainty, so it is a matter of utmost importance for Belize.”

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