Costa Rica warns of 'conflict' with Nicaragua

11th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Costa Rica warned Tuesday of a "serious aggravation of conflict" with Nicaragua which it accused before a world court of "provocation" through military occupation of its territory.

"There is the risk that a serious aggravation of the conflict could occur as a result of the Nicaraguan behaviour," Edgar Ugalde Alvarez, Costa Rica's ambassador to Colombia, told the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

"Costa Rica will not allow itself to be intimidated and will not accept anybody trying to impose on it a fait accompli."

Costa Rica wants the court to order the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Nicaraguan troops it claims are illegally occupying land to enable the construction of a canal across Costa Rican territory.

Alvarez insisted his country was committed to finding a peaceful settlement in spite of its neighbour's "continuing provocation".

The court case was not only an attempt to secure Costa Rica's territorial integrity, he said, but also "to protect human life in Costa Rica and Nicaragua".

"Up until now there have not been any victims as result of military action by Nicaragua, but that has been entirely due to the responsible approach of my government ... not to answer force with force," he said.

Alvarez said Nicaragua's unauthorised dredging of the San Juan River that serves as a frontier between the two Central American neighbours, had caused "significant damage to fragile eco systems, to forests, to protected wetlands".

Also, it risked affecting large sections of Costa Rica's northern border.

The ICJ on Tuesday started hearing Costa Rica's request for urgent provisional measures pending the judges' ultimate ruling in its territorial dispute with Nicaragua, which can take years.

Nicaragua, which rejects all the claims, is to present its arguments on Tuesday afternoon.

© 2011 AFP

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