Costa Rica and Nicaragua engage in tit-for-tat over regional integration

May 22, 2009

The Costa Rican government moved this week to defend its upcoming post as president pro tempore of the Central American Integration System (SICA) amid calls from Nicaragua to skip Costa Rica in favor of Guatemala.

Costa Rica refuted what it called the “hostile” remarks from Nicaraguan Foreign Vice Minister Manuel Coronel Kautz in an ongoing tit-for-tat between the two nations over who should assume SICA´s rotating presidency once Nicaragua´s turn ends in July.

“Costa Rica regrets the disrespectful, inappropriate and hostile language in statements made by the high Nicaraguan government official,” said a statement from Costa Rica´s Foreign Ministry.

Referring to the prospect of Costa Rica at the helm of SICA, Coronel on Monday said, “We can´t afford to put Central American integration at risk.”

For its part, Costa Rica´s Foreign Ministry said the determination of who presides over SICA “is not in anyone´s unilateral authority” to decide, “but rather corresponds to geographical order.”

However, critics point out the Costa Rican government has been a recalcitrant member of Central American initiatives, refusing to participate in the Central American Court of Justice, the Central American Parliament or the CA-4 immigration initiative.

President Oscar Arias last week expressed frustration with SICA, which has been under Nicaragua´s watch for the past six months. “My experience is that these meetings are not good; the agendas are not made to address the principal problems facing Central American countries,” Arias said in statements published in the Costa Rican daily La Prensa Libre.

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