Apr 11, 2018 News
As Guyana buckles down to fighting Venezuela’s claim to two-thirds of Essequibo, authorities are urging patriotism.
Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, in urging responsible reporting, said that he will be speaking to his colleague ministers. That will see only the Foreign Affairs Ministry authorized to speak on the ongoing case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
He also said that a US$15M budget that had been part of the US$18M signing bonus with ExxonMobil may not be enough.
The Minister was yesterday speaking with media personnel at his South Road office where he outlined the current ICJ case Guyana filed last week.
It will have to determine once and for all whether the 1899 Award that set the boundaries of Guyana and Venezuela is legally binding.
Venezuela is claiming a large part of the country, where minerals, forestry and natural resources abound, and is even laying claims to the waters where oil was discovered offshore Guyana in 2015 by ExxonMobil and its partners.
Explaining the situation, Greenidge said that the ICJ is the highest court of the United Nations.
While the 1899 Award was binding, another agreement by the departing British in 1966 as part of the independence process, left Guyana in a situation where the Venezuelans were able to “dance within the raindrops” for over 51 years and avoid a resolution of the matter.
The British Agreement made no mention of Essequibo nor any transfer of lands and certainly made no mention of Venezuela rights within the border identified in 1899, Greenidge insisted.
This has led to a situation unacceptable both nationally and internationally.
The situation could lead to war, or a disturbance.
Over time, it has seen Venezuela occupying a territory of Guyana (Ankoko Island), the blowing up of dredges and the turning away of investors.
The current case with ICJ will determine once and for all if Venezuela is justified, or right or wrong, “We always wanted it…(former President Forbes) Burnham would have been happy if we could have arrived at this point.”
Greenidge said that he met with UN’s Secretary General, António Guterres, who stressed that the court is particular in the behaviour of countries who have cases before ICJ.
He even warned that there are scenarios where the court could “walk away” from proceedings.
Asked about what basis ICJ would not hear a case, Greenidge said that the court will have to, among other things, determine if there are other established mechanism to hear to resolve the matter.
There could also be other issues of how to deal with the air space and maritime areas involved.
However, the Minister warned that it is ill-advised to speculate in the public as the matter is now before the court.
Asked about the US$15M from the signing bonus with ExxonMobil that has been earmarked for the legal fees, Minister Greenidge said that it is too early to say what the case will cost in legal fees.
It may involve significant research and experts.
Greenidge also said that the US$15M may not be adequate or it could very be sufficient.
It was the Cabinet’s decision that the US$15M will be drawn down on from its special account overseen by the Bank of Guyana and transferred as the need arises to the Consolidated Fund as is necessary to meet the estimated expenditure on the lawyers.
There had been questions about that US$15M bonus. It was part of US$18M payment made by ExxonMobil when it signed the Production Agreement with Guyana in 2016,
The details of the bonus only came after the deal was leaked.
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