February 5, 1999
OAS LAUDS ECUADOR AND PERU PRESIDENTS
ON HISTORIC PEACE AGREEMENT
Photo: Roberto Ribeiro
Ecuadorian President Jamil Mahuad and Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, speaking at the Organization of American States (OAS) today, stressed the historical significance of the peace accords the two countries signed last October. They also urged the nations of the hemisphere to take a firmer and more decisive step towards integration.
During a protocolary meeting of the OAS Permanent Council, the two South American presidents explained the scope of the peace agreements that ended more than fifty years of conflict between the two countries. President Mahuad announced that he intended, during "the four years of my presidency, not to spend a dime on arms acquisitions." President Fujimori, meantime, said his country would "try to sell some of its military supplies."
Both Mr. Mahuad and Mr. Fujimori recounted the steps taken over the last three and a half years to bring about the much-anticipated peace. "The agreement we signed was the product of the free will of the two countries, not something imposed by anyone," the Ecuadorian leader declared, noting that peace could thus be lasting and firm.
He also referred to the "historic accord" his government concluded with its armed forces, saying that together with the decision not to buy weaponry, steps had been taken towards a 60 per cent cut in investments on compulsory military service, and that 25 per cent of the armed forces would be re-deployed to crime-fighting.
The Ecuadorian president also announced that the first week of May his government would unveil a national anti-corruption plancurrently being crafted in conjunction with all national and civil society organizationsat the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia. He added: "Ecuador will be one of those countries at the forefront of the war against corruption, based on a well-organized, well-financed program with measurable, step-by-step goals." He also accepted OAS Secretary General CÚsar Gavirias offer to support the mine-clearing programs in both countries.
Perus President, Alberto Fujimori, meanwhile, described the presence of himself and the Ecuadorian president at the OAS as "an important milestone in Latin American unity." He said "We have come to jointly express our firm commitment to peace."
Referring to the decision that led the two presidents to end what he said was a conflict that did not reflect the will of the nations, President Fujimori said the armed forces of Peru and Ecuador were opposed to a military approach but, instead, advocated peace. "That is the noble and clear position that has guided the actions of both countries armed forces."
He said "efforts to sow seeds of confusion through nationalist sentiments would prosper no more because you cant fool all the people all the time." The Peruvian president noted that for the first time in more than a century and a half, the two countries would relate as good neighbors. "This, therefore, is reason for the hemispheric community to really rejoice, having followed every step of the negotiations.
"The settlement arrived at is a creative formula which, while respecting the treaties, is modern and unprecedented, as it not only settles past disputes through agreements in traditional areas of [border] demarcation, trade and shipping, but also lays the foundation for true and effective economic integration between Peru and Ecuador," President Fujimori declared.
Permanent Council Chairman, Ambassador Lionel Hurst of Antigua and Barbuda, opened the protocolary session. He hailed the illustrious visitors to the OAS, telling them that "the peace which your two countries have established serves as a living example to nations around the globe where spears have not yet been turned into plowshares and where politics has degenerated into war."
For his part, the OAS Secretary General said the peace agreements signed by Ecuador and Peru "represents the new spirit of integration prevailing in the Americas; the collective quest for values we share; defending human rights; and sustainable development." Ecuador and Peru, said Mr. Gaviria, "have renewed our faith in the rules governing our relations and, above all, have rejected the use of force as a basis for laws to benefit states."
He referred to the complementary peace agreements, not only in terms of their bilateral implications, but also as they relate to the Andean community of nations and to the whole process of hemispheric integration. The Secretary General spoke of how speedily Peru had embarked upon an aggressive mine-clearing program, to which Ecuador was also committed. "The OAS offers both countries its endorsement and experience," said Mr. Gaviria.
"We are truly thankful and admire you and to the peoples of Ecuador and Peru for giving us a clear demonstration of commitment to peace," Mr. Gaviria added.