Guyana rejects “subtle threat” from Venezuela

Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues – Birkett.

[] – The Government of Guyana is rejecting what has been termed a “subtle threat” against Guyana’s territorial sovereignty by its neighbour to the west – Venezuela.

This comes after a communiqué from the Venezuelan Embassy was published in local print media on Thursday which said it is surprised by the false accusation that Venezuela seeks or has sought to stymie the development of Guyana when, on the contrary, reliable proof can be displayed throughout the government of President Hugo Chavez and President Nicolas Maduro, that both leaders have maintained their conviction equally.

The back and forth between the two government is part of an on-going territory dispute between the two countries. The issue recently returned to the fore after a US Company, ExxonMobil signalled its intentions to commence drilling the Stabroek Block off the Essequibo coast; a move that the Venezuelans strongly rejected but was proceeded with nevertheless.

“Guyana rejects the subtle threat issued in the sixth paragraph of the Communiqué where it is stated that Venezuela “reserves the right to execute all actions in the diplomatic field and in accordance with international law, that might be necessary to defend and safeguard the sovereignty and independence [of Venezuela]” over Essequibo. The Government of the Republic of Guyana has had occasion to caution the Government of Venezuela that any such action will be in flagrant violation of the territorial integrity of Guyana, international law and will also constitute a material violation of the Geneva Agreement,” a statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry noted.

According the statement, while it is a fact that the delimitation of the maritime boundary between Guyana and Venezuela remains an outstanding matter, it is pellucid that there are maritime spaces that can legitimately belong to only one of the two States. That is fully recognized under both customary and codified international law.

“Venezuela’s vain effort to link its spurious and illegal claim to Guyana’s Essequibo to matters related to the continental shelf and the exclusive economic zone of Guyana within the context of the Geneva Agreement of February 17, 1966 therefore has no legal basis. The fact is that the Geneva Agreement does not relate to a boundary or territorial dispute, but to a unilateral and unsubstantiated claim by Venezuela that the Arbitral Award of 1899 is null and void. Guyana completely rejects this effort to conflate two separate matters within the context of the Geneva Agreement,” the release stated.

It was also noted that as a sovereign State, empowered under international law to exercise sovereign rights over its continental shelf and exclusive economic zone, Guyana has full and unfettered authority to unilaterally explore – with or without partners – and exploit the living and non-living resources within its jurisdiction. “Any act or objection to the exercise of such jurisdiction is contrary to international law – both codified and customary international law.”

The Government is convinced and assured that the people of Guyana, and indeed international investors and public opinion, will not be swayed by the falsities and fabrications in the Communiqué issued by the Venezuelan Government on March 13, 2015.

The statement called on the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to be respectful of the 1897 Treaty, the Arbitral Award of 1899, the 1905 demarcation of the boundary between Guyana and Venezuela pursuant to the Arbitral Award and other formally ratified documents between our two countries, the principles of general international law and the Charter of the United Nations in the conduct of its relations with the Republic of Guyana and its people.