Jan 17, 2021 News
– We can’t assume allies will leap into war for us –Greenidge
By Kiana Wilburg
Kaieteur News – Following the recent decree by President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, that he will “reconquer” the Essequibo Region, several of Guyana’s allies have rallied behind it to not only denounce such acts of aggression but also stress the need for the actions initiated at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to be respected.
The calls regarding the legal process were also made in the face of Maduro’s announcement that he intends to send a request to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, to lead negotiations between Guyana and Venezuela as an alternative solution to the ongoing litigation at the ICJ. But Guyana’s Advisor on Borders and Agent on the case, Carl Greenidge, has categorically stated that the ICJ is the only option.
During an exclusive interview, the Advisor said that Guyana cannot allow itself to be distracted by such naïve utterances. He was keen to note as well that this is not the first attempt by Maduro to derail the ICJ process. Greenidge reminded that the first attempt involved an offer in October last to have bilateral talks and although that did not elicit a favourable response, it was followed by an attempt to persuade the ICJ to post-pone or abandon the hearings. Greenidge said that the pretext offered was that bilateral talks were about to commence.
Greenidge said that many of those who followed the Strengthened Mediation process would be aware that the United Nations Secretary-General (UNSG) and his Personal Representative, H.E Dag Nylander, worked with Guyana and Venezuela representatives for over two years in the expectation that a way forward based on the promise of irresistible proposals which Venezuela would be submitting could be found. “No such proposals were ever forthcoming. More I say not,” expressed the Agent.
In spite of this, Greenidge noted, President Maduro has called on the UNSG to require Guyana to enter into direct bilateral talks. The Advisor said, “We do not know of the SG’s response but note that the request is being made little more than two years since the failed UN-sponsored effort to hold talks. The request is clearly intended as a diversion. The Court has postponed the case management session from the 15th to January 25 but so far has not accommodated the request to alter the dates of hearings which have in any case to be discussed at that session.”
As Guyana goes forward, Greenidge said that the task facing Guyana will be to avoid being diverted. He said, “None of the promises of Venezuela in this regard have ever been fulfilled. So our task as a nation is to avoid some of the past pitfalls as regards national unity, political maturity and consistency of approach so as to prepare and present the case to the ICJ and the world to the best of our ability.”
Greenidge stressed that Guyana should not be beguiled into believing that two parties, one of which is the victim of broken agreements and bad faith and of another which is determined to gain territory by attempting to impose its domestic laws and Constitution on the world, can be forced to negotiate bilaterally. In such circumstances, the Advisor said that negotiations may be peaceful while adding that it is hard to see how the outcome could be mutually acceptable or practical.
For the court battle, Greenidge stressed that Guyana has engaged the most formidable and experienced legal team that could be mustered, adding that they have been preparing the case, acutely aware of the existential importance of this matter to the nation.
Greenidge said, “As Guyanese we have to be aware that there is no silver bullet available to us, a tiny state. Guyanese have to be prepared to provide sufficient resources to ensure that the negotiating and diplomatic effort remains robust enough to complement the legal skills.”
He added, “We do not have the option suggested by the naïve, namely to now abandon the ICJ case in the expectation that we will be able to persuade the rest of the world of the justice of our case, based on sympathy, our oratory or domestic mobilization…”
Outside of the Court, Greenidge said that Guyana has to continue to work with allies to refute the propaganda blitz of Venezuela which at times appears to be a cover for military action. He said this has concerned many observers. Be that as it may, Greenidge said the avoidance of a war is in the first place a matter for diplomatic effort and skill, essentially the diplomatic efforts and skills of Guyana and its allies. “There is no substitute for it. As much as we have powerful allies, however, we should not assume that they will leap into war for us. We have to continue and intensify our diplomatic efforts,” the Agent for Guyana concluded.
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