The Government of Argentina has called on Venezuela and Guyana to favour dialogue and a peaceful resolution, in conformity with International Law, regarding their territorial controversy over the region of Essequibo.
The Foreign Ministry release which was recently released, also underlines the significance of territorial integrity, and that neither side adopts measures that endanger peace and security in the region.
The missive said, “The Argentine government underlines the fundamental importance with respect to the principle of territorial integrity and, at the same time, the importance that any of both sides avoids adopting measures that endanger the peace and security of the region, urging on them to persevere in the search of a peaceful resolution of the controversy in conformity with Articles 2.3 and 33 of the United Nations Charter.”
The territorial dispute, dating back to the 1830s, has heated up in recent months, after ExxonMobil which is licensed to work in the Stabroek Block, announced in 2015 that it had discovered large reserves of oil.
And up to a few weeks ago, local authorities were alerted to the intrusion on ExxonMobil contracted vessels by the Venezuelan military.
Speaking to the National Assembly on the matter, Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge said that it was on December 22, last, the Ministry received a report from Esso Exploration and Production, Guyana Limited (Exxon Mobil) that vessels under contract by the company and its partners CNOOC of China and NEX of the USA, performing exploratory seismic work within the Stabroek block, were intercepted at 10.30 hours that same day by the Venezuelan Navy.
Greenidge said that a reckless attempt was made by the Venezuelans to land a helicopter on the deck of one of the Exxon contracted vessels, the Ramform Tethys. The Minister said that the vessel was flagged by the Government of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and had a total of seventy crew members on board including the Captain.
He said that it was intercepted in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana at an approximate distance of 140 kilometres from the nearest point to the provisional equidistant line with Venezuela and some 250 kilometres from Punta Playa, the westernmost point on the land border of Guyana.
More than two weeks prior to this interception, Greenidge said that the world and its mariners, including Venezuela, had been alerted to the intended commencement of seismic work in Guyana’s EEZ. He said that this alert was by way of an advisory from Guyana.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said, “Rather than speak to us, Venezuelan authorities waited, tried to seize the vessel, and then sent us a Note Verbale dated December 20, last. It apparently had taken until December 22, last, to move the document electronically or physically from their Foreign Affairs Ministry in Caracas to our Embassy in Caracas. Of course, there is a Venezuelan Embassy in Georgetown…”
Greenidge added, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent that same day, a formal protest to the Government of Venezuela conveying the complete rejection by the Government of Guyana of this hostile and unlawful act.
“It stated that Venezuela’s threat and use of force to impede Guyana’s exercise of sovereign rights in its Exclusive Economic Zone, is a manifest violation of the Charter of the United Nations and general international law.
“Concerned for the security of the crew of the vessel, and in keeping with its international obligations, Guyana also informed several Governments of the seventy crew members whose safety had been endangered.”
Further to this, Greenidge said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana informed the Secretary General of the United Nations of the incident and requested that the matter be placed on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.
Additionally, Greenidge said that in response to Venezuela’s recent aggressive actions in the maritime areas under Guyana’s jurisdiction, the Government has sought and successfully obtained, the support of the international community, especially from CARICOM, the United States and the United Kingdom, all of which have issued statements condemning Venezuela’s unlawful conduct.
The Foreign Affairs Minister said, “No State which seeks to impose by force its own unilaterally decreed ‘rules’ on a militarily weaker state can expect to have that smaller State willingly accept to engage in dialogue under conditions of coercion.
“Guyana is not averse to dialogue, provided that it has no effect on the proceedings before the International Court of Justice. Indeed, it is committed to the peaceful resolution of all international disputes, and considers good faith dialogue to be the most direct means to that end.”
He added, “For these reasons, Guyana calls on its sister republic to: immediately withdraw its unilateral decree, cease all uses and threats of military force against unarmed civilian vessels duly licensed by Guyana to engage in offshore exploratory activities, present its case before the ICJ and, in due course, commit to accepting the Court’s Judgment on the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award and the location of the land boundary.”
Greenidge said that the Government of Guyana has informed Venezuela that it will not be intimidated by the heightened hostility by that country as it continues to pursue its economic development agenda.
He said that Government has since reminded Venezuela that the Stabroek Block is an area over which Guyana maintains sovereign rights, located in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Guyana. He said, too, that companies with concessions licenced by the Government of Guyana in this area will continue to implement their scheduled programmes of activity.
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