Kaieteur News – Venezuela’s President, Nicholas Maduro Morro on Tuesday said he is ready to meet with President Irfaan Ali and the heads of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on the subject of the Guyana- Venezuela border controversy.
In a video posted on his Twitter account, the Venezuelan leader said, “I reiterate to the President of Guyana Irfaan Ali, that there is only way to resolve the conflict over the territory of the Essequibo: to return to “face-to-face dialogue within the framework of the Geneva Agreement.”
The video message was translated into English via subtitles.
Maduro added, “I am ready to meet in a place of our choice together with delegates from CARICOM”.
The Venezuelan president said he wants the controversy to be resolved in a peaceful manner while noting that Venezuelans consider Guyanese as brothers and sisters.
“We will never represent a threat,” the Venezuelan President said.
Despite his calls for a peaceful resolution, Maduro is maintaining claims to two-thirds of the Essequibo and said the area will be defended at all costs.
Maduro supported a massive march held in Caracas hours after he requested a meeting with President Ali.
“What an impressive march by the working class (public servants) of the Libertador municipality of Caracas, they raised their voices with strength and faith in the defence of Essequibo,” President Maduro said on Twitter while adding, “In the face of lies and manipulation, we will continue betting on dialogue and peace and diplomacy. Come on!”
On Tuesday, Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett in the exercise of the right of reply to the statement by Venezuela’s Foreign Minister in the General Debate of the 78th United National General Assembly called on Venezuela to respect and adhere to the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) processes on the settlement of the controversy.
“Accordingly, if Venezuela truly believes that the best, or the only, way to resolve the controversy is by adherence to the 1966 Geneva Agreement, then it should adhere to that Agreement and plead its case to the ICJ, and accept the decision of the Court, when it is issued, as a final and binding settlement of the controversy,” Ambassador Rodrigues said while maintaining that Guyana will not agree to any procedure that contradicts the express provisions of the Geneva Agreement and bypasses the Court.
Rodrigues said that the intelligence of the international community should not be insulted by Venezuela’s allegations that Guyana is allowing its territory to be used as a platform for military aggression against any State including the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
“This all derives from Venezuela’s grotesque claim to two-thirds of Guyana. Throughout, the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana has acted and continues to act in relation to neighbouring Venezuela, in full accordance with international law, and has consistently invited the Government of Venezuela to do the same,” she said while urging the Spanish-speaking country to confirm to the ICJ’s judicial processes.
She reminded that the 1966 Geneva Agreement is the binding legal instrument that provides for the settlement of the controversy over the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award and the land boundary between Guyana and Venezuela.
“The obligatory settlement procedure is set forth in Article IV of the 1966 Geneva Agreement. Under that Article, when bilateral negotiations failed to achieve a settlement, Guyana and Venezuela agreed to refer the controversy to the United Nations Secretary-General to choose the means of final settlement,” Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the UN said while reminding that the Secretary-General chose, in the first instance, the use of his good offices to bring about a settlement satisfactory to both parties.
“The good offices process took place with the participation of Guyana and Venezuela over a period of more than 20 years, without success or any progress toward success.
In January 2018, acting in accordance with Article IV of the Geneva Agreement, the Secretary-General determined that the good offices process had failed, and he chose a new means of dispute settlement: litigation before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”
Further, under Article IV, the Secretary-General’s decision was binding on Guyana and Venezuela. Guyana then filed an Application with the Court seeking its final and binding Judgment on the validity of the 1899 Arbitral Award and the boundary between the two States, in accordance with Article IV of the 1966 Geneva Agreement and the Secretary General’s decision of January 2018. Venezuela twice appeared before the Court to object to its exercise of jurisdiction in the matter, and the Court rejected Venezuela’s objections both times. The Court ruled that the basis of its jurisdiction was precisely Article IV of the Geneva 3 Agreement and the Secretary General’s decision that the dispute should be resolved by the Court.
Rodrigues statement to the UN General Assembly is in response to Venezuela’s Foreign Minister who sought to paint a false picture of Guyana. Last week, the Venezuelan government issued a statement saying that it strongly rejects Guyana’s ongoing bid round for 14 oil blocks, eight of which have attracted bids from six groups of oil companies. The Venezuelan administration said the move by Guyana is illegal.
The missive added, “The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela reiterates that any illicit and arbitrary concession that Guyana grants, has granted or intends to grant in the areas in question is unacceptable and violates its sovereign rights, and warns that these actions do not generate any type of rights for third parties to participate in this process.”
Guyana’s Head of State, Dr. Irfaan Ali categorically stated however that his administration is entitled to pursue economic development within the nation’s maritime borders. The President said, “The Government of Guyana reserves the right to pursue economic development activities in any portion of its sovereign or any appurtenant maritime territories. Any unilateral attempt by Venezuela to restrict the exercise by Guyana of its sovereignty and sovereign rights will be wholly in consistent with the Geneva Agreement and the rule of international law.”
The Venezuelan National Assembly has since unanimously approved a Consultative Referendum which paves the way for people to decide on the country’s claims over Guyana’s Essequibo region.
According to BNN Newsroom, the decision to hold a referendum is a strategic one, aimed at bolstering Venezuela’s position on the international stage. It also seeks to involve and enlighten its populace about the ongoing territorial controversy with Guyana.
It should be noted, however, that the result of such a referendum does not alter the status quo of ownership over the Essequibo territory which rightfully belongs to Guyana. Guyanese authorities have since called on the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to address Venezuela’s erroneous claims which have heightened in recent days.
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