Guyana/Venezuela to fast forward talks on maritime delimitation

Signing of Joint Statement - Foreign Ministers of Guyana and Venezuela.
Signing of Joint Statement - Foreign Ministers of Guyana and Venezuela.
Signing of Joint Statement – Foreign Ministers of Guyana and Venezuela.

[] Guyana and Venezuela have agreed that a technical team would meet within four months to explore mechanisms within the context of international law to address the issue of maritime delimitation.

This is as a result of a meeting held between Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Minister for Foreign Relations Venezuela, Elias Jaua Milano.

The duo, along with their delegation met in Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday October 17, following the seizure of a US Ship in Guyana’s waters by the Venezuelan navy on October 10.

In a joint statement issued late on Thursday night, the two countries agreed that dialogue and cooperation are the means for a peaceful solution of differences between States.

“The Ministers ratified all the points of the Joint Declaration of September 30, 2011 in Port of Spain, signed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and the then Minister of the People’s Power for External Relations of the Bolivarian Republic, Nicolas Maduro Moros, where they recognised that the delimitation of the maritime boundaries between their two States remains an outstanding issue and agreed that such delimitation will require negotiations.”

No other information was released to the media as it relates to the US ship was released by the Venezuelan authorities on Tuesday.

Venezuela’s navy took control of the research vessel, which was conducting a survey in the Roraima Block offshore Guyana. Venezuela sailed the ship to its Margarita Island, where the vessel was seized for six days, during which its Captain was charged and released on bail. The country is claiming that the vessel was in their economic zone.

However, Guyana has strong evidence to support that the US ship was well within its jurisdiction when it was accosted and seized by the Venezuelan navy.

As a matter of fact, a government official confirmed that the exact location of the ship was recorded when the Venezuelan navy took control of it.

Guyana’s Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon told reporters at a press conference that because the ship was engaged in a seismic survey, its exact location was being captured by the second.

“The vessel was engaged in Seismic survey work. The reports of the investigations are meaningless save and except their precise location is identified, so at all material times the location of that ship – the coordinates – was being captured second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour during the survey. So there can be no question of where the ship was located,” Dr. Luncheon explained.

Given this explanation, Dr. Luncheon was then asked if the seizure of the ship was a deliberate one by the Venezuelan navy. However, the Cabinet Secretary responded that it would be impossible for him to pronounce on the intention of the navy.

“The vessel was in Guyana’s waters particularly when it was accosted and seized. The issues surrounding the misguided actions of the Venezuelan military should, as has been during the periods before this incident; it should be addressed bilaterally through diplomatic channels.”

Venezuela and Guyana have long argued about the status of the disputed Essequibo region, an area on the border and over rights to the ocean resources that lie offshore. Venezuela calls it a “reclamation zone,” but in practice it functions as Guyanese territory.



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