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Chile - Foreign Relations

Chile has long sought to be the strongest power on the Pacific Coast of South America, and it has always shied away from diplomatic entanglements outside the Americas. Since its return to democracy in 1990, Chile has been an active participant in the international political arena. Chile completed a 2-year non-permanent position on the UN Security Council in January 2005. Jose Miguel Insulza, a Chilean national, was elected Secretary General of the Organization of American States in 2005 and reelected in 2010. Chile hosted the Tenth Anniversary of the signing of the OASs democratic charter in 2011. Chile served as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors in 2007-2008 and was elected again for 2010-2012, and as the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) president pro tempore until August 2009. Chile is the Secretary Pro Tempore from 2010 to 2012 of the Rio Group, a multilateral organization of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

In 2010 Chile joined the OECD, becoming the second Latin American country after Mexico to do so. Chile values this membership, and sees it as a marker on the way to becoming a developed economy by 2020. Chile is an enthusiastic participant in the newly established OECD Latin America and Caribbean Initiative.

In October 2010, Chile applied for membership in the International Energy Agency and is still awaiting a decision. The country is an active member of the UN family of agencies, including the UN Human Rights Council, and participates in UN peacekeeping activities; Chile currently has over 500 peacekeepers in Haiti. Chile hosted the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit and related meetings in 2004. It hosted the Ibero-American Summit in November 2007 and the Progressive Governance Network in March 2009. An associate member of Mercosur, a full member of APEC, a member of the Arco del Pacifico, and a member of the Pathways to Prosperity, Chile has been an important actor on international economic issues and hemispheric free trade. Chile hosted the Americas Competitiveness Forum in September 2009.

In September 2002 Chile and the EU signed a scientific and technological co-operation agreement. The agreement allows scientists to take part in the other side's research programmes and provides for visits and exchanges, joint conferences and workshops, scientific networks and training, and for the exchange and sharing of facilities and equipment. On 18 November 2002, the EU and Chile signed an Association Agreement to liberalise trade and increase political dialogue and co-operation between the two sides. Most of the Trade Chapter came into force on 1 February 2003. The Chilean National Congress has completed its ratification procedures for the Agreement, as have all EU members. The UK was among the first EU member states to ratify the Agreement.

The Chilean Government has diplomatic relations with most countries. In 2011, Chile officially recognized the state of Palestine.

Chile has frontiers with Argentina, Peru and Bolivia and has had historical rivalries with each of these neighbours. Chile expanded to its present size in the 1880s. Following her victory over Peru and Bolivia in the War of the Pacific (1879-83), Chile gained the northern provinces of Antofagasta (from Bolivia) and Tarapac (from Peru). There has been no armed conflict between Chile and her neighbours since 1883, but memories of the war and its territorial consequences have been an enduring source of tension in their relations ever since.

In 1984 Chile and Argentina signed a Treaty of Peace and Friendship following the settlement of the Beagle Channel Dispute, and in the 1990s the two countries settled over 20 other delimitation disputes. Chile and Argentina have moved the focus of their relations towards cooperation, association and integration. This change has had significant effects in the field of security and Defense. With relations moving from discord towards association, the center of strategic relations has also moved towards cooperation in identifying shared interests in this stage of globalization, integration and achievement of common objectives.

Chile and Bolivia severed diplomatic ties in 1978 over Bolivia's desire to reacquire territory it lost to Chile in the 1879-83 War of the Pacific. The two countries maintain consular relations and are represented at the consul general level. Over the last ten years Chile and Bolivia have, despite their lack of full diplomatic relations, established closer contacts and discussed possible cooperation in areas such as bilateral trade, economic integration and energy links. In 2000 Bolivia appointed a Consul General in Santiago, a move reciprocated by Chile in 2001.

In December 2005, Chile signed its first bilateral agreement with Bolivia: a trade agreement granting a zero tariff to most Bolivian products imported in Chile. The two countries also signed an agreement allowing visa/passport free travel for citizens. Former Chilean President Lagos' attendance at the inauguration of Bolivian President Evo Morales in 2006 was seen as a first step in improved bilateral relations. Nevertheless, the Bolivian claim for access to the Pacific continues to hamper further development of relations. In early 2011 President Morales announced his intention to pursue a solution to the Bolivian claim for sovereign access to the sea through the international court at The Hague, as Peru has done over the border dispute leading Chile into a potential new international arbitration process with a neighboring country.

It was not until 1999 that Chile and Peru signed an agreement which finally completed implementation of the peace settlement in respect of their land frontier. Diplomatic tensions have arisen again in recent years after Peru filed a complaint against Chile over maritime borders in January 2008. Chile disagrees with Peru's assertion and is challenging its claim in the ICJ. Chile acceded to the International Criminal Court in June 2009. Peru filed suit in the International Court of Justice in The Hague by Thursday in a dispute over the maritime border between Chile and Peru. Peru has long claimed the area near the Chilean port of Arica, and contends that the limits at sea between the two countries have never been defined. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet rejected Peru's claim to the area of the Pacific Ocean near their common border, saying treaties signed in 1952 and 1954 clearly define the area as Chilean territory. The two countries have feuded over the area since Chile seized a portion of Peru in the 1879 War of the Pacific. The complaint is now being processed at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and a decision is expected in 2012/2013.





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