– Captain charged; Ministers to meet in T&T tomorrow
Guyana and Venezuela will tomorrow hold formal talks over the seizure of a vessel that local officials indicate was operating in local waters hunting for oil. That meeting is scheduled to take place between Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and her Venezuelan counterpart Elias Jaua. The two representatives will meet in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The news comes amidst reports that the vessel has been released by the Venezuelan authorities.
The Malaysian company that owns the survey ship said yesterday that the vessel and its 36-member crew had been released.
And according to Venezuelan newspaper El Universal, the Venezuelan Attorney General’s Office yesterday charged Ukrainian captain Igor Bekirov for allegedly violating Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone on board the oil exploration ship Teknik Perdana, which was intercepted by Venezuelan authorities on October 10.
In a preliminary hearing, the designated prosecutor, Andrés Bravo, charged Bekirov for allegedly failing to meet the special regime of security zones as specified in the organic laws on Water Areas and National Security, the Attorney General’s office said in a press release.
The fourth crime control court in Nueva Esparta state, northeast Venezuela, released Bekirov pending trial and banned him from conducting oil exploration and research activities in the Venezuelan territory.
Further, Bekirov will have to appear in court for pending proceedings and will be summoned through the Guyana Embassy to Caracas.
Meanwhile, SapuraKencana Petroleum, said in a statement it was grateful to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government, for releasing the RV Teknik Perdana, which was picked up by Venezuela’s Navy last week.
SapuraKencana said its President and group CEO, Tan Sri Shahril Shamsuddin, had met Venezuela’s ambassador to Malaysia to try and resolve the matter.
“At that meeting, the Venezuelan ambassador gave a firm assurance that the crew was safe and members were being treated well by the authorities there,” it said, adding that Malaysia’s envoy in Venezuela had rushed to Margarita to help mediate the situation.
The vessel was boarded on Thursday last by the Venezuelan navy and the captain ordered to sail to Margarita Island.
“The survey work was being conducted by Teknik Perdana, a non-military vessel whose sole purpose is to undertake oil and gas related survey work,” , the company said.
“We wish to express our gratitude to the Venezuelan government for caring for the safety and welfare of the crew, which comprises multiple nationalities, during the time they were at Margarita Island and also for releasing the vessel,” the Kuala Lumpur-based company said in a statement.
Venezuela’s foreign ministry had said the RV Teknik Perdana was “carrying out illegal activities” within an ocean border area claimed by Caracas.
The Guyana Government has since maintained that the vessel was operating in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone when it was intercepted.
Meanwhile Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier (Ret’d) David Granger, has called for the establishment of a permanent ‘National Borders Commission’ within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He recommended, also, that the existing ‘Foreign Service Institute’ should be restructured, re-staffed and re-financed.
Granger’s proposals were made in January 2012 at his meeting with Professor Norman Girvan who had been appointed by Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon as his Personal Representative to support him in his role as UN Good Officer in the Guyana-Venezuela border matter.
Granger’s recommendation is that the National Borders Commission should take over responsibility for accumulating data and documents on territorial matters.
His proposal for the reactivation of the Foreign Service Institute was to allow for the continuous conduct of post-graduate level training courses, seminars and workshops for Foreign Service and Defence Force officers and International Relations students.
Granger expressed the opinion that insufficient attention was being paid to Guyana’s border relations with Suriname, Brazil and Venezuela.
He said that there needs to be greater institutional strengthening of the capability and capacity of the Government of Guyana and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to research and respond to challenges and to safeguard the country’s territorial integrity.
In late August, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his Guyanese counterpart, Donald Ramotar, said that they were moving to resolve the dispute and would continue to seek help from United Nations mediators to solve the conflict.
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