San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Irish president lauds Costa Rica as model for sustainable development

After arriving in Costa Rica Saturday, Irish President Michael D. Higgins met with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla Monday at the Casa Presidencial on the last leg of his Central America trip.

Higgins called Costa Rica a “world leader on combating climate change and sustainable development […] from which the world has much to learn.” The Irish leader also celebrated Costa Rica’s national parks and its steps toward making them accessible to all. 

The Irish Times newspaper reported Monday that Higgins lauded Costa Rica for its high number of women in politics. The newspaper noted that women make up 39 percent of Costa Rica’s legislature compared to Ireland’s lower house, Dáil Eireann, which is only 15 percent women.

Chinchilla told reporters that the two countries have a “young but strong” relationship and share the values of peace, human rights, environmentalism and sustainable development.

The presidents discussed Costa Rica’s upcoming assumption of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States presidency in 2014 and possible trade opportunities between the European Union and Central America, as well as nuclear disarmament. 

Chinchilla added that she looks to Ireland as a model for how developing nations can enter the ranks of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD, something the Central American country is angling for.

The Irish leader will give a speech on human rights in the 21th century at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San José Tuesday morning. 

This is the first official visit to Costa Rica by an Irish president.

Costa Rica is the Irish leader’s last stop on a 12-day visit to Mexico and Central America, where he previously met with El Salvador’s President Mauricio Funes and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to sign agreements on trade and cooperation between the respective nations.

“One thing our two countries do not share is our current fortunes in soccer,” Higgins said, referring to Ireland’s failure to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where Costa Rica will compete. “I assure you, you’ll have my moral support next summer,” the president concluded to applause.

AFP contributed to this report.

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