Less than a month after dropping out of the multilateral talks for an EU-Central American Association Agreement, Nicaragua returned to the negotiating table April 22 for an extraordinary meeting in Brussels, the government confirmed. Nicaragua walked away from the talks earlier this month after it was unable to muster support for its proposal to create a mostly EU-funded $79 billion fund to address poverty and economic inequalities in Central America as part of the EU Association Agreement.
Nicaragua’s proposal, which other Central American countries said they never agreed to, called for the EU to foot 90 percent of that bill.
Unable to garner support for its proposal, Nicaragua walked away from the negotiation table March 30 and requested a six-month suspension of the talks and of the implementation of the Central American Customs Union.
But Nicaragua this week decided to return to the talks in Brussels after other Central American countries agreed to discuss Nicaragua’s proposal during a meeting last Sunday afternoon in Trinidad and Tobago.
“Now we see that there is a better scenario, and we all have to be open,” said Nicaragua’s Vice Foreign Minister Manuel Coronel Kautz, in comments to local media outlets.
The news also comes as relief to other Central American countries. “We are very pleased with Nicaragua’s decision to come back to the negotiations,” Emma Lizano, spokeswoman for the Costa Rican Foreign Trade Ministry (COMEX) told The Tico Times this week in a phone interview.
As part of last weekend’s meeting between Central American leaders and U.S. President Barack Obama, the Central American countries also agreed to ask the United States for more funding to improve security and combat drug trafficking in the region.
Some analysts, however, say Ortega is not the best person to be asking either the EU or U.S. for more aid, considering both have already suspended aid to Nicaragua over concerns for the country’s democracy. Others question Ortega’s diplomatic skills.
“Instead of trying to make friends with other countries, he insults them and then still has the chutzpah to ask them for money!” said Liberal Constitutional Party lawmaker Francisco Aguirre.
The EU’s association agreement with Central America will contain a political element, a trade component and mechanisms for cooperation.
It will be the first association agreement of its kind between the EU and another block of countries outside of Europe.