By Leonard Gildarie in New York
The administration has no immediate intention to spend monies to buy military weapons or increase its strength anytime soon, despite the aggression from neighbouring Venezuela.
Rather, President David Granger insisted Sunday night, that Guyana will continue to seek solutions through the diplomatic route.
Granger was speaking to reporters shortly after a critical meeting between him and Venezuela’s Head of State, Nicolas Maduro, which was facilitated by Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon.
Both Granger and the Venezuelan leader are set to address world leaders participating in the United Nations General Assembly today.
The two leaders agreed that Venezuela will dispatch its Ambassador, back to Guyana after recalling her in July, during the row.
President Granger disclosed that his speech will center on increased UN protection for small states. It is expected also that the Venezuela issue will be raised.
The President would not immediately confirm that he will tone down his address following Sunday evening’s meeting with Maduro.
With Guyana four times smaller than Venezuela and an army and population 40 times smaller than Venezuela, it would be the route that Guyana would want to follow, Granger argued. The meeting was arranged at the UN after relations between the neighbours took a turn for the worse, after US-owned ExxonMobil discovered oil in Guyana waters and Venezuela in May, issued decrees claiming Essequibo and the area which the exploration rig had been working on.
The claims sparked a tense situation with Maduro recalling his Ambassador and rumors that Venezuela will no longer, after November, pursue buying rice from Guyana in exchange for oil.
Maduro had also suspended approval for Guyana’s new Ambassador, Cheryl Miles, whose appointment has been held up for a few weeks.
Maduro, in a statement from his Foreign Ministry yesterday, made it clear that the issue with Miles and an Ambassador from Guyana would be restored.
Like Granger, the Venezuelan leader was upbeat that the meeting between the two, which saw them holding hands with Ban Ki-Moon opened a process of dialogue for collaboration.
However, Maduro refused to back down from the claims to Guyana’s maritime areas and its territory, insisting that it belongs to his country.
He noted that the meeting was “tense and difficult” but, in order to move towards the path of peace-diplomatic relations, it was decided to return the Ambassadors to their respective posts.
Maduro confirmed that the UN will establish a special technical committee that will visit Venezuela in the context of the Geneva Accord for a comprehensive look at the circumstances and the current situation.
“The Secretary General is committed after that visit, to do a study of all the options that gives us the Geneva Agreement and Article 33 of the UN Charter. Venezuela has insisted on the need to activate the good offices which is the final decision of consensus between Guyana, Venezuela and the Geneva Agreement and the General Secretariat,” Maduro said in the statement.
However, he made it clear that his country loved the brotherly people of Guyana and that it was agreed “to work together because there is no other way forward.”
On Sunday evening, President Granger told reporters that the meeting and its outcome would serve as an opening to resume normal relations with Venezuela.
In addition to the rice-for-oil deal, Guyana has benefitted from a rehabilitation facility- the Hugo Chavez Center- and other commercial projects.
Granger said that he expects President Maduro and his team to go back to the drawing board and refashion the nation’s relations with Guyana.
“We can’t threaten Venezuela… We want to develop our resources and we are telling Venezuela you do the same.”
The President also disclosed that he will be calling on world leaders to offer more protection for small states.
Guyana has been meeting with individual countries making its case on the border controversy.
On Sunday, the Head of State also met with the leaders of Georgia and Sierra Leone.
Asked about the silence of other neighbours in the region on the Venezuela issue, Granger stressed that things are happening. Diplomacy does not necessarily have to be noisy.
An efficient army is what the Government will concentrate on but efforts will be concentrated more on diplomacy.
Last week, Venezuela in a show of force deployed hundreds of soldiers to the border near Guyana, sparking condemnation from Guyana. That country has since started withdrawing the troops and equipment which include anti-aircraft guns.
Accompanying the President to the meeting with Maduro on Sunday evening were Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge and Guyana’s Representative to the UN, George Talbot.
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