The next meeting between representatives of Guyana and Venezuela relative to the ongoing border controversy would determine the outcome of the Good Offices Process initiated by the United Nations, according to Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge.
He said while he cannot comment on the Good Offices Process, he did confirm that the team is expected to meet by next week, and that meeting would pave the way for determining the outcome of the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.
“We are going to be meeting soon, probably next week; and (after) the next meeting, there may or may not be another meeting. At the end of that process, the SG (Secretary General of the United Nations) receives a report from his personal rep at that time…when he receives his report and makes a decision. (At that time) we will be at liberty to say what we want and comment on what has taken place and what is going on,” the Minister said.
“I can’t speak for Venezuela, but we don’t see that (reaching an amicable solution); we see suddenly escalating claims when Guyana finds resources; we see a reinterpretation of the Geneva agreement; we see a state that has signed an agreement and seeks not to honour that agreement…,” he posited.
Norway’s Dag Halvor Nylander had, in February this year, been selected to represent UN Secretary General António Guterres in the Good Offices Process. Nylander had visited Guyana a number of times to hold talks with President David Granger and Foreign Minister Greenidge, among others.
Relations between Guyana and Venezuela have worsened ever since oil giant ExxonMobil announced in 2015 that it has found oil in Guyana. Venezuela has staunchly been against oil exploration in Guyana’s Stabroek Block, where ExxonMobil found multiple oil deposits.
In fact, Venezuela’s National Assembly had approved an agreement to reject the oil exploration activities in March 2017.
Venezuela, with almost 40 times the population of Guyana and a territory that is several times bigger, claimed in 1968 the entire territorial sea of Guyana by means of the Leoni Decree, which has never been withdrawn.
In 2015, the Government of Guyana requested then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to take steps towards resolving the controversy. In 2016, because of a stalemate on the matter, the outgoing Ban Ki-moon agreed with his successor, Guterres, to continue to use the Good Offices Process until the end of 2017 as a means of arriving at a settlement.
It is with this intention that Guterres appointed Nylander as an envoy to resolve the border controversy. According to the mandate of the Personal Representative, “If, by the end of 2017, the Secretary-General concludes that no significant progress has been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so.”
Guyana has maintained that the only way to settle the controversy is by way of a juridical settlement at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Venezuela’s claim to two-thirds of Guyana has escalated over the years, with various displays of aggression. (Lakhram Bhagirat)