…but wants UN resolution of border controversy
The Government of Guyana has insisted that it wants continued discussions on bilateral matters with Venezuela, but a simmering border controversy will have to be settled with the United Nations.
Venezuela has re-energized its century old claims of almost two-thirds of Guyana’s lands and now a significant area of coastal waters, sparking a tense diplomatic spat between the two countries.
Venezuela is facing general elections and the territorial claims are widely seen as a diversion from that country’s internal turmoil, which includes food and other critical supplies shortages.
The actions of Venezuela came after US-owned ExxonMobil announced that it found significant evidence of oil in this country’s waters—in the maritime area that the neighbouring country is now claiming.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, in a statement Thursday, said that he had made it clear since June to the National Assembly, that Guyana is ready to have discussions with Venezuela on bilateral matters.
“I wish to confirm that Guyana remains committed to that position. However, in relation to the search for a solution to Venezuela’s contention of nullity of the 1899 Arbitral Award, we rely on the provisions of the Geneva Agreement which Guyana has scrupulously observed, and on which the Secretary General of the United Nations is engaged.”
Greenidge noted that on August 29, he received a team from the United Nations. “That team was sent by the UN Secretary General to solicit our views on the way forward and we expressed those views to the Secretary General.”
This week, Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, reportedly said that he has suspended the approval process for a new ambassador from Guyana, after Minister Greenidge in meetings last weekend in Florida allegedly attacked Venezuela.
However, the Minister yesterday said that Guyana has a right to speak on matters affecting it.
“Furthermore, I did not act on a sudden urge to visit the United States. I had a long-standing invitation to address Guyanese and interested persons in the USA on matters affecting Guyana and those of interest to the Caribbean.”
He said that he was invited to Miami and what was said there did not differ in any way from what he said before.
The land and maritime claims, Greenidge pointed out, is a legitimate matter of concern to Guyana and other CARICOM States, and also be to the international community as a whole. “Venezuela must recognize that such actions, along with its pursuit of its spurious claim despite the restrictions of the Geneva Agreement, are the bases for Guyana’s response. By his outbursts each time we speak in defence of our rights, President Maduro comes perilously close to revealing a belief that uniquely, as a nation and as a people, we have no right, either to speak or to state our views on any matter affecting our wellbeing. On this aspect I say no more.”
The official emphasized that Guyana remains ready to have dialogue with Venezuela on matters affecting our bilateral relations with the exchanging of ambassadors, an important part of promoting such dialogue.
“Notwithstanding announced actions by President Maduro in this regard, we are prepared to carry on these discussions. Whatever actions Venezuela takes in relation to ambassadors, we remain ready to adhere to the Geneva Agreement, and we rely on the Secretary General to make his decision as to the means of settlement of the controversy as defined in the Geneva Agreement.”
Already, Venezuela has announced intentions to halt a lucrative rice-for-oil deal with Guyana by November.
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