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Costa Rica - Foreign Relations

The Directorate General of Foreign Policy is the agency responsible for coordinating the foreign policy of Costa Rica. Based on the guidelines produced by the Presidency of the Republic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship and the high interests of the nation, this dependence establishes the procedures to safeguard and promote the principles that have inspired the relations with other states or bodies. These principles, based on international flows and the fight for Human Rights, are categorized as follows: Peace, legality, democracy, fundamental freedoms and human rights, disarmament, commitment to the development and welfare and the environment. The work of this instance is in constant coordination with the different public and private, national and international in favor of national and regional targets institutions.

Costa Rica is an active member of the international community and proclaimed its permanent neutrality in 1993. Its record on the environment and human rights and advocacy of peaceful settlement of disputes give it a weight in world affairs far beyond its size. The country lobbied aggressively for the establishment of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and became the first nation to recognize the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Human Rights Court, based in San Jose. Costa Rica has been a strong proponent of regional arms limitation agreements. In 2009, Costa Rica completed its third term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

In November 1983 Costa Rican leader Luis Alberto Monge Alvarez formally proclaimed for his country an official policy of "permanent active and unarmed neutrality," which he hoped would be observed by the international community. His government has indicated that, in the event the country is invaded by a foreign power, it would seek help from the Organization of American States and the signatories of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (also known as the Rio Treaty).

During the tumultuous 1980s, then-President Oscar Arias authored a regional peace plan that served as the basis for the Esquipulas Peace Agreement. Arias' efforts earned him the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequent agreements, supported by the United States, led to the Nicaraguan election of 1990 and the end of civil war in Nicaragua. Costa Rica also hosted several rounds of negotiations between the Salvadoran Government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), aiding El Salvador's efforts to emerge from civil war and culminating in that country's 1994 free and fair elections.

The Arias Administration established relations with eight nations in the Middle East from 2006 to 2008: Egypt, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Yemen, and "Palestine." In August 2006, Costa Rica moved its embassy in Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, a move that was probably also meant to improve its standing among Arab nations.

Costa Rica officially established diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1959 and was one of only 26 countries to officially recognize Taiwan. Costa Rica had no official diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China (China or PRC). Despite the long history of close ties with Taiwan, Chinese involvement in Costa Rica, primarily through trade, is growing. Trade between Costa Rica and the PRC is ten times that with Taiwan. This gap only continued to widen as China's development advanced.

In June 2007 Costa Rica established diplomatic ties with China, ending nearly 60 years of diplomatic relations with Taiwan. Costa Rica's relationship with China has grown significantly since the two countries officially established relations. President Arias visited China in October, which among other things, resulted in $20 million from Beijing for disaster relief in the wake of the heavy 2007 rainy season. A large chunk of the $28 million of additional Chinese assistance will fund the construction of a new national stadium in San Jose.

In 2008, Costa Rica established diplomatic relations with "The State of Palestine," and in 2009 Costa Rica reopened formal relations with Cuba. In 2009, then-President Arias acted as mediator in the Honduran constitutional crisis, working closely with ousted President Manuel Zelaya and the interim Honduran government. Costa Rica formally recognized Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo as the winner of the 2009 Honduran elections and the President of Honduras.

The relationship with Nicaragua will probably always be rocky, especially as long as President Ortega remained in power. Costa Rica and Nicaragua have disputed issues related to their border for over a century. The latest flare-up began in October 2010 when Costa Rica claimed that, as part of an ongoing dredging operation, Nicaraguan troops crossed the Rio San Juan into Costa Rican territory. In March 2011, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on the provisional measures (similar to an injunction) requested by Costa Rica in its territorial dispute with Nicaragua. The Courts final ruling on the dispute may take several years. While tensions between the two countries have eased somewhat, Nicaragua filed a counterclaim with the ICJ in December 2011 arguing a Costa Rican road construction project along the San Juan violates Nicaraguan sovereignty and is causing major environmental damage to Nicaraguan territory.

Costa Rica has an excellent overall relationship with Colombia, despite some lingering refugee issues that stem in part from the presence of over 10,000 Colombian refugees.

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