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Chile could withdraw from Hague court

Chile''s President Sebastián Piñera arrives at the Convention Centre in the historic city of Cartagena, Colombia, to attend the 8th Pacific Alliance summit yesterday.

Piñera warns leaving Bogotá Pact a possibility after adverse ICJ ruling on border with Peru

SANTIAGO — Chilean President Sebastián Piñera said yesterday that his country will have to evaluate if it stays within the Bogotá Pact — a 1948 treat that entitles the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague to rule over its borders — after it lost 22,000 square kilometres of sea to Peru and as Bolivia demands an outlet to the sea.

Piñera also accused Bolivian President Evo Morales of “blatantly lying” on the subject and said that La Paz’s claim before the ICJ has no chance of success.

“Chile will have to evaluate if it remains or if it withdraws from the Bogotá Pact,” Piñera said during an interview with Televisión Nacional de Chile from Cartagena, Colombia, where he participated in a Pacific Alliance summit yesterday. “We are studying the issue,” the Chilean president said and admitted that he has “talked about it with president-elect Michelle Bachelet.”

Chile joined the Bogotá Pact in 1948 but after the January 27 ruling on the country’s maritime borders with Peru many voiced concern that remaining within the treaty was not in the country’s best interest.

Both Chile and Peru abided by the World Court’s ruling and have already begun negotiations to implement the new border which established that rich fishing grounds close the coast remain in Chilean hands but granted a bigger chunk of ocean to Lima.

Regarding Bolivia’s claim to an outlet to the sea, which the country lost during a war against Chile in the 19th century, Piñera said that “it is baseless.”

“We’ve studied international law and jurisprudence and Bolivia has no reason or argument on this issue,” he insisted.

Piñera went as far as to accuse Morales of “blatantly and regularly lying.” He was responding to an accusation made by the Bolivian president, who said that Chile has closed itself to dialogue and is an “aggressor” country.

The Chilean leader underlined yesterday that his government is willing to talk to its neighbour but only on the basis of bilateral agreements signed by the two countries.

“I find it fundamental that Bolivia recognizes and respects the Peace and Friendship Treaty signed in 1904, which is still valid and in full force,” he said. The agreement — which Bolivia rejects because it says was signed “under pressure” — sets the borders between the two countries.

“If Bolivia recognizes that fact and doesn’t insist on questioning the treaty, then (the possibility of) dialogue will always be open,” Piñera said.

‘Small-minded’ proposal

Piñera’s suggestion that Chile could leave the Bogotá Pact was criticized by the opposition.

The head of the Socialist Party — which integrates Bachelet’s Nueva Mayoría coalition — considered that “it is quite small-minded that after a ruling that we didn’t like, we leave the court because the other side is always to blame.”

Andrade highlighted that Piñera is using the ICJ ruling as grounds to support the idea that a 3.7-hectare territory — referred to as the “terrestrial triangle” in local press — belongs to Chile and not to Peru, as Lima now claims. “I frankly don’t understand” how he could suggest that Chile withdraws from the pact, he said.

But Piñera’s proposal was backed by the Chilean right. UDI lawmaker Iván Moreira considered that the Treaty “has become weaker and is only integrated by 14 countries. We’ve got to look back and see that (every time) The Hague is involved, Chile ends up losing a piece of land or sea,” he said.

Colombia withdrew from the Bogotá Pact in 2012, after a ruling on its maritime border with Nicaragua that President Juan Manuel Santos deemed “unfair.”

Herald staff

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