The Organization of American States (OAS) and the European Union signed an agreement to support the Peace Fund project, Implementation of Confidence Building Measures in the Adjacency Zone between Commonwealth member Belize and Guatemala, managed by the hemispheric organization.
The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, highlighted that “this is a very important occasion for us, given that we’ve been working on this for a long time, with a very fruitful cooperation from both governments.”
The Secretary General recalled that Belize and Guatemala agree on “the notion that this had to be solved in a peaceful manner,” and therefore decided to go to the International Court of Justice. That decision by the governments must be ratified by a simultaneous referendum in the two countries, to take place on October 6, 2013.
”In those months, we have to maintain our mission in the adjacency zone,” added the leader of the OAS, “and at the same time the governments have the task of informing and convincing their peoples of the merits of this referendum.” “All this implies costs,” concluded Secretary General Insulza, “and the contribution of the European Union have been key in this sense.”
For his part the Permanent Observer of the European Union to the OAS, Joao Vale de Almeida, said “there is no better way to resolve conflicts than through a peaceful process and we want to support that.”
He explained that “our contribution of roughly 2 million Euros, or 2.5 million dollars, goes in two directions: first, to support the confidence building measures in the adjacency zone; and second, to support information campaigns in order to enhance the level of awareness and information of the populations about this peaceful track toward a resolution.”
The European Union, continued Ambassador Vale de Almeida, sees in the process “the potential for this peaceful settlement to help the economies, trade and cooperation in both countries; but also a way to enhance security and development in the region and the well being of its populations, in particular the settlers in the adjacency zone.”
Present at the signing ceremony were the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Albert Ramdin; the Permanent Representative of Belize, Nestor Mendez; the Permanent Representative of Guatemala, José Rodrigo Vielmann de León; representatives of Member States and Observers, and other high authorities of the organization.
The OAS provides technical and political assistance with regard to the differendum between Belize and Guatemala by facilitating the negotiations taking place under the “Agreement on a Framework for Negotiations and Confidence-Building Measures” signed by the Governments of Belize and Guatemala in September 2005.
Likewise, the OAS General Secretariat’s Office in the Adjacency Zone between Belize and Guatemala conducts verifications and activities in support of a number of government institutions. Several projects are also under way to foster development and integration of the communities in the Adjacency Zone, along with community resettlement projects.
Belize is a parliamentary democracy, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations which became independent from UK in 1981 and is a member of UN since that same year.