Today, 6 December 2017, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs of Belize, Hon. Wilfred P. Elrington, along with the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Patrick Andrews, concluded their five-day working mission to Brussels, Belgium, after attending multiple high-level meetings with the EU Institutions and participating in the 106th Session of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers.
On Monday 4 December, the Belize delegation met with the Commissioner of the Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development of the European Commission, H.E. Neven Mimica, to discuss Belize-EU bilateral relations and its development cooperation both in the Central American and Caribbean sub-regional context. Foreign Minister Elrington took this opportunity to thank the Commissioner for the EU’s successful development cooperation partnership with a focus on current support for important the health, energy, public finance management, banana, and sugar sectors of Belize. They also exchanged views of the future of ACP-EU relations post-2020.
Also on 4 December, for the very first time a Minister of Government from Belize addressed the Delegation for Relations with the Countries of Central America (DCAM) of the European Parliament. The Hon. Foreign Minister briefed the attendees, which included Members of the European Parliament, Ambassadors of Central American Missions resident in Brussels, and representatives of the institutions of the European Commission, on Belize’s national priorities, including updating DCAM on Belize-Guatemala relations, development priorities, and sharing Belize’s case for a Schengen visa-waiver for Belizean passport holders.
On Tuesday 5 December Minister Elrington and the delegation met with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium, H.E. Didier Reynders. The Foreign Ministers discussed the warm bilateral relationship shared between both nations and advanced discussions on political, development and investment issues of national interest to Belize.
On Wednesday 6 December, the Minister and the delegation met with the Managing Director for the Americas of the European External Action Service (EEAS), Ms. Edita Hrdá and her team. Among other issues, views were exchanged on Belize-Guatemala relations, the EU’s on-going financial support for the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone, tax matters, visa issues, and the EU’s partnership with the Caribbean, Central America, the Community of Latin American & Caribbean States (CELAC), and the ACP Group of States.
In addition to meeting representatives of the European Institutions, the Foreign Minister of Belize also met with the Permanent Representatives of key European Union Member States, which are members of the Group of Friends, to discuss matters of critical importance to Belize, including Belize-Guatemala relations, BREXIT, visa matters and the EU’s unilateral tax screening process.
The Belizean delegation throughout the three days simultaneously participated at the 106th Session of the ACP Council of Ministers. The aforementioned meeting was preceded by the ACP Ministerial Consultations on Commodities, where H.E. Ambassador Dylan Vernon, in his capacity as Chair of the ACP Subcommittee on Sugar, delivered a report to the Ministers on the major issues and concerns of the current ACP sugar industries. A key issue discussed was the future of ACP-EU relations post-2020.
Importantly, at the conclusion of the 106th ACP Council of Ministers, the Council adopted a Resolution reaffirming the 79 ACP State’s strong commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Belize, urging the Government of Guatemala to comply with its formal agreements to formulate with the Government of Belize a Sarstoon River protocol. This Resolution is attached.
In addition to the Honourable Minister and Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the delegation of Belize included H.E. Dylan Vernon, Ambassador of Belize to the EU, and Mr Raineldo Urbina, First Secretary.