July 19th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica’s Foreign Minister, Enrique Castillo, said that relations with Nicaragua “are still very difficult” because the country is “not a good neighbor.”
Castillo made the statements during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C.
“Nicaragua has a very deliberate expansionist policy that has led to confrontations with all its neighbors,” Castillo said.
Castillo said that the disputes waged between Costa Rica and Nicaragua in the International Court of Justice at the Hague were “just the tip of the iceberg” because Nicaragua is trying to “extend its maritime territories” and offer “areas of Costa Rican territory to foreign companies to explore for oil.”
The government of Laura Chinchilla has said they are following the Nicaragua Canal project closely, expected to pass through Lake Nicaragua in that country – something that Chinchilla’s government said causes “concern” over the possibility of environmental damage in Costa Rican territory.
“We are concerned, because if the canal utilizes [Lake Nicaragua], this could produce detrimental effects to Costa Rica. We are following the situation closely,” Castillo said during his visit to Washington.
Although the route of the canal is still not clear, and Nicaraguan authorities have ruled out using the Rio San Juan, the risk of further border disputes between the nations persists, as Costa Rica is concerned the project may adversely affect the flow of the Rio San Juan or the Rio Colorado.
Castillo said that the countries do not have bilateral communication over the canal project, but that Costa Rica will continue to follow the project’s specifics until a route is determined.
Costa Rica and Nicaragua have maintained a dispute in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) since 2010. Costa Rica claims that an invasion of Nicaraguan soldiers and civilians caused environmental damage to Costa Rican territory while dredging the Rio San Juan.