(Reuters) - Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega expressed confidence on Friday that Colombia would recognize an international court ruling this week that grants Nicaragua jurisdiction over resources-rich Caribbean waters near a Colombian archipelago.
Ortega did not mention Bogota’s announcement on Wednesday that it would keep navy ships in the disputed waters until the International Court of Justice rules on a possible appeal from the country.
“I am sure that our brothers, the Colombian people, the Colombian government, and the president of Colombia (Juan Manuel Santos) will recognize the International Court of Justice’s decision because there is no other way forward,” Ortega said at a student event in Managua.
The ICJ ruled on Monday that a cluster of disputed small islands in the western Caribbean belonged to Colombia and not to Nicaragua but drew a demarcation line in favor of Nicaragua in the nearby waters.
The court said the territorial waters extending out from the seven islets, which are nearer Nicaragua’s coast than Colombia‘s, should not cut into Nicaragua’s continental shelf. The ruling reduced the expanse of ocean belonging to Colombia.
The decision, which is binding, increases the size of Nicaragua’s continental shelf and economic exclusion zone in the Caribbean, which would give it access to rich underwater oil and gas deposits as well as fishing rights.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos rejected the changes to the border, which effectively put some islands outside of the rest of the archipelago, saying the ruling had “omissions, mistakes, excesses, inconsistencies, that we can not accept”.
A Colombian navy commander also said he received instructions from the government to “maintain the sovereignty of Colombia’s maritime jurisdiction, as it has historically been known.”
On Thursday, Colombia’s foreign minister said her country should consider withdrawing from a 1948 treaty that forces Colombia to abide by any of the court’s rulings.
But experts have said that Colombia’s withdrawal from the “Bogota Pact” would not have retroactive effect, and that it would still be obliged to comply with the ruling.
In 2007, the court, which is based in The Hague, ruled in a long-running dispute between the two countries that the three larger islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina belonged to Colombia.
The ruling on Monday related to seven other islets and the associated offshore rights surrounding them. The three larger islands have been controlled by Colombia since Nicaragua ceded them in a 1928 treaty.
The cluster of islands is more than 437 miles from the Colombian coast and 125 miles from Nicaragua.
Reporting By Ivan Castro; Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Bill Trott