The President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, released an official broadcast to his Colombian counterpart offering to initiate a dialogue around an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling ceding Colombian maritime territory to the Central American country.
This comes one day after Colombian Juan Manuel Santos called the ICJ ruling “inapplicable,” claiming only a treaty approved by the Colombian Congress and signed by the President could turn over territory.
In the broadcast, Ortega referred to the accusations of aggressive “expansionism” leveled at his country by President Santos as, “ridiculous,” pointing out that Nicaragua is one of 67 countries across the world using official diplomatic channels to expand territory, and that, in this case, Colombia is the only party threatening force.
“This is a matter of law,” he said. “Expansionism is carried out through weapons. Here we are adhering to international law.”
The offer to negotiate, he said, was primarily to ensure a peaceful turnover process, not to debate the ICJ ruling.
“The only objective of [any potential] dealings [with Colombia] is to ensure compliance with the Court’s orders,” adding, “we agree that a dialogue can be opened between the Nicaraguan government and the Colombian government, and that from those negotiations, we can come to an accord that will permit the transition [of sea territory] in the form ordered in [the Court’s] limitations.”
Ortega said he was “troubled” by what he called Colombia’s attempts to “infringe on international law,” law specifically created, he said, to avoid the sort of “territorial war” President Santos is pushing for.
Colombian officials have yet to respond to President Ortega’s statements, broadcast on Nicaraguan television and radio Tuesday.
In previous public comments, however, President Juan Manuel Santos has been firm in his country’s opposition to the ruling, and rejection of its legitimacy, saying it is his duty as president to “defend the [Colombian] Constitution,” whose definition of the territorial lines does not coincide with the ICJ’s.
Colombia is asking for Nicaragua’s maritime borders to be pushed from 12,000 to 24,000 nautical miles off the San Andres islands currently in dispute.
In his broadcast Tuesday, meanwhile, Ortega acknowledged that Nicaragua’s true purpose is to reassert control over the entire archipelago and its surrounding waters, which Nicaraguans commonly feel was extorted from their country during previous treaties under direct military pressure from the United States.