– resolution with Suriname in sight
By Abena Rockcliffe
Boasting about a markedly improved relationship with Suriname, Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge recently announced that outstanding “issues” related to the border with its eastern neighbour may soon be resolved.
Greenidge made the announcement on Friday last as he took the floor of the National Assembly to make his contribution to the National Budget Debates.
While he revealed the good news about the neighbourly relations with Suriname, the same could not be said about Guyana’s relations with Venezuela as Greenidge declared that “normalcy” in that regard is nowhere in sight.
Relations with the Republic of Suriname
The controversial area is what is known in Suriname as the Tigri area and in Guyana as the New River Triangle, which has been under Guyana’s control since 1969, and the dispute has always been simmering below the surface.
Greenidge told the National Assembly that the relations between Guyana and Suriname continue to improve markedly.
“I am happy to announce that the members of the Guyana Border Commission and the Integral National Border Commission of Suriname have met four times for fruitful discussions and plans are afoot to convene a fifth meeting in Georgetown. In this framework, the Parties are exchanging and examining historical documents that could assist the Commission in arriving at a consensus on resolving the outstanding issues related to the Guyana/Suriname Border.”
Venezuela and Guyana
Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro, on May 27, 2015, had issued a decree, extending Venezuela’s claim to Guyana’s territorial waters. A map which was issued, accompanying the decree, shows that the claim includes the area where the US giant oil company, ExxonMobil is currently drilling for oil.
Venezuela threatened to use force to deprive Guyana of its territory.
When Greenidge turned his attention to the controversy in the National Assembly, he blazed the People’s Progressive Party for its anti-national, unpatriotic approach to the entire issue, since it came out of government.
Greenidge pointed to several articles where it was reported that the PPP was criticizing the “diplomatic mishandling” of the heightened controversy.
The Minister said that he found this amusing, especially since the General Secretary of the Party, Clement Rohee defended the PPP’s decision to refuse a meeting with the government to assist in handling the issue, pointing out that it is the Party’s right not to do so.
Greenidge told the National Assembly that Rohee added a complete falsification and chided the government for withholding permission for CONVIASA flights due to the non-payment of bonds and landing fees. He also pointed out the fact that the PPP referred to the issues with the PetroCaribe arrangement between Guyana and Venezuela as an “economic blunder by the new government.”
Further, Greenidge pointed out, “The Prime Minister (Moses Nagamootoo) was justifiably incensed when our friend the Honourable Mr. Seeraj mouthed President Maduro’s criticism of Guyana’s Head of State, Mr Granger and his analogy. This would not happen in Venezuela – you call for national unity and are proud to repeat malicious propaganda by people who threaten our national interest.”
Greenidge told the House, “Freedom House, of course, has no inhibitions about drawing faulty analogies, but also, it seems no scruples about promulgating false accusations, such as implying that the loss of the rice market in Venezuela could be laid at the door of the coalition.”
He said that this is the case “despite the fact that it was on its (the PPP’s) watch that it was told the rice agreement would not be renewed, although it never made that fact public at the time. Having said that, however, it must be emphasized that the end of the rice deal had nothing to do with either the current government or the previous one, and everything to do with what was going on in the minds of those who rule in Caracas. As such, therefore, the PPP should recognize that it is inappropriate, if not dangerous to try and score petty political points on matters of this nature.”
“What the PPP does not seem to have grasped is that what Guyana does or does not do will not affect Venezuela’s aggressive disposition. Miraflores (The Palacio de Miraflores is the official workplace of the President of Venezuela) is marching to its own drum, and there will be no restoration of “normalcy” in relations any time soon.”
Prospects for 2015/16
Greenidge informed the House that the Government of Guyana will take every possible step available to protect Guyana’s interest and secure its territorial integrity, while at the same time fostering closer relations with all neighbours.
“We remained fully cognisant of the latent and overt claims to our territory and the fact that there is a need for Guyana to delimit all of its maritime boundaries with the States that are opposite or adjacent to us and settle the existing land boundary issue with our neighbour to the east. The Ministry will be seeking the support of this Honourable House in furtherance of these goals,” said Greenidge.
He added, “I dismiss these criticisms as ill-informed and urge the Opposition spokesmen to join us in a joint committee of this House, devoted to examining our foreign policy.”
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