– says Guyana committed to peaceful resolution
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge insists that Guyana remains committed to a peaceful resolution in the territorial dispute with Venezuela.
His comments in this regard, are in light of a particular blog that was featured on the Huffington Post by a Greenpeace representative. That piece, he said contains a number of erroneous allegations about the capacity of Guyana and its policies, as well as the massing of Venezuelan missiles and troops on the nation’s border in September 2015.
The blog also speaks about the new US Secretary of State and former Exxon Mobil, CEO, Rex Tillerson and more importantly, about Guyana’s relations with Venezuela.
In an invited comment, Greenidge said that what he found most worrying was the link made in the blog post between Venezuela’s militarization along Guyana’s border and its incursions into Guyana’s waters as if it is somehow Guyana’s fault for having agreed to give exploration licenses to Exxon Mobil and other companies to develop its offshore resources.
“The false assumption in the post is that Venezuela somehow has a valid claim over Guyana’s maritime space, a significant distance away from the internationally recognized boundary between the two nations. It falsely assumed that Guyana’s attempt to develop its own natural resources is a provocation against its neighbour.”
Greenidge said that the Greenpeace author has no idea whatsoever that the border between Guyana and Venezuela was in fact delimited in 1899 by an arbitral award.
“He fails to understand that while the precise delimitation of a maritime boundary has not taken place, the maritime boundary follows the land boundary at Punta Playa and not the mouth of the Essequibo hundreds of kilometres away.”
The Foreign Affairs Minister further commented that Venezuela’s absurd claim over two thirds of Guyana’s territory and maritime space is based on baseless assertions that the 1899 award is somehow “null and void”.
“We welcome the opportunity to resolve this controversy based on international law, whether through the UN good offices process, or failing that, before the International Court of Justice, consistent with the Secretary-General’s decision of 15 December 2016. But it is Venezuela that has avoided a resolution of this issue over the past 50 years since the parties concluded the Geneva Agreement around the time of Guyana’s independence in 1966.”
Greenidge also noted that Venezuela’s belligerent claims predate any involvement of USA oil company Exxon Mobil, from the 1966 invasion of Guyana’s portion of Ankoko Island to the bombing of dredges operating on Guyana’s stretch of the Cuyuni River in 2007 and harassment and detention of an exploration vessel in 2013.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that it is worrisome for such a blatantly biased slant to be issued, thereby fuelling Venezuela’s hostility, even as Guyana’s Government remains committed to resolving the controversy that has persisted for so long peacefully through the UN Good Offices Process, or failing that, the International Court of Justice.
Furthermore, Greenidge also pointed to another aspect of the blog. He said, “The blogger asserts that the US State Department has ‘oversight’ over Guyana and that the State Department is ‘writing oil and gas regulations’ for Guyana …as it has no real framework for regulating multinational oil companies.”
The Minister of Foreign Affairs stressed that Guyana passed legislation on oil exploration and its exploitation long before the Exxon discovery–as far back as1986.
Greenidge said it is worth noting that while Guyana has received technical assistance from time to time from several countries, the nation itself has also contributed in this field to many international agencies such as the Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Bank as well as foreign Governments from Papua New Guinea to Ethiopia.
Greenidge stressed that Guyana is hardly the country without expertise, or the country wholly dependent on the USA that the Greenpeace author attempts to portray it as.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said that it is also unfortunate that the blogger chose to depict Guyana as a mere recipient of legal edicts from foreign countries, rather than an engaged and experienced member of the international community.
Greenidge said that this prejudice is evident throughout the blogger’s post, saying, for example that Guyana has ‘no experience handling super-powered corporations’ and is ‘…. on the verge of being …. pillaged and left for broke by bad management….’
The Minister of Foreign Affairs said it is important for Guyanese to understand that the author provides no basis whatsoever for these defamatory statements.
Greenidge said that Guyana has a long history of dealing with multinationals. In this regard, he said that since the ALCOA bauxite mining operations in 1914, Guyana has dealt with many major, powerful international corporations, ranging from Reynolds Metals Company and Bookers McConnel/Booker Tate to Chase Manhattan and Jessels Holdings.
As with all business dealings, he said that there are times when Guyana had to be firm, “something it can do exactly because it has experience in this field.”
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