Guyana-Venezuela talks: President Lula critical to ensuring regional stability – Pres Ali


…Caricom-mediated talks a blueprint for world – Dominican PM

President Dr Irfaan Ali has described his Brazilian counterpart, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is in Guyana for an official visit, as having a critical role when it comes to the maintenance of regional stability, and in particular through the role Brazil played in brokering peace talks with Guyana and Venezuela last year.

The Brazilian President arrived in Guyana on Wednesday for talks with Caribbean Community (Caricom) Heads of Government. When asked by reporters at the Marriott Hotel, President Ali, who is chairing Caricom, emphasised President Lula’s importance to the region.

“I see President Lula’s role in the region as critical. He has, I think, great responsibility on his shoulders to provide regional leadership. He has already been doing so. He has already reached out to Guyana and Venezuela,” President Ali said.

“He has ensured that Brazil participates in the Argyle Initiative led by Caricom, and he is a stabling voice, a voice of reason; and I think his role is, as all others, to ensure that peace and stability remains; to ensure that all parties abide and act within the confines of international law.”

At the height of border tensions last year, President Lula was instrumental in arranging the December 14th meeting between President Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. And following that meeting, Presidents Ali and Maduro had also agreed to meet again in Brazil within the next three months, to engage in further discussions.

President Ali also spoke about the work done over the past few days during the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of Caricom. According to the Head of State, these are discussions that must move the region closer towards integration.

“(Discussions) that contribute to the development of the region; that contribute to the maintenance of peace and stability to this region and work towards a situation where the region is highly integrated and we resolve issues and work together on the transformation of our people through investment in education, health.

“But, more importantly, I think we have a responsibility to integrate the region through infrastructure investment and to look at issues of food security and energy security and climate and find common ground and solutions where we can work together,” the Head of State further said.

Blueprint for the world

Only a few days ago, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit had referenced the amicable way in which the region was able to broker peace between Guyana and Venezuela and had said this could serve as a global template to resolve tensions around the world.

Skerritt, the preceding Caricom Chairman, made these comments during the opening ceremony of the 46th Regular Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government of Caricom as he figuratively passed the baton of Chairmanship to President Dr. Irfaan Ali.

Reflecting on his chairmanship, Skerrit noted the way in which Caricom was able to broker the Argyle Agreement between Guyana and Venezuela; back in December, when both parties met in St. Vincent and the Grenadines under Caricom’s watchful eyes.

“When I began this address by speaking of my immense pride, I did so with memories still fresh of what we achieved as a group when we met as a family in December in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to maturely address the tensions between our two brothers. We made international news, not for unrest, war or violence, but for hosting of mature, proactive deliberations that created a template that others in the world would do well to follow. It is therefore fitting that, with a strong sense of pride in our accomplishments, I pass the baton to His Excellency President Mohammed Irfaan Ali, and assure him of my unstinting support and cooperation,” Prime Minister Skerrit said.

PM Skerrit also reflected on other strides Caricom took last year, such as on the international relations’ front. He also recalled the steps taken towards food security, such as the introduction of new crops in the region, and closer collaboration between regional agriculture producers.

“On the international front, we deepened engagements with international partners, and secured crucial support for our development priorities. But I want to expressly single out the success of the first Caricom-Saudi Arabia Summit, held in Saudi Arabia in November of last year. The summit focused heavily on investment opportunities, with Saudi Arabia pledging to bolster our infrastructure, renewable energy, tourism and agriculture sectors,” Skerrit added.