Following Venezuela’s act of aggression by way of temporarily intercepting an ExxonMobil contracted oil exploration vessel offshore the Stabroek block area of Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge, during a symposium hosted by the Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) on Thursday, said that the maritime matter cannot be solved without the land controversy being finally settled first.
He affirmed that the land controls the sea coast and posited that Venezuela has several islands that prevented it from having clear access to the Atlantic as opposed to Guyana which has such access.
It was explained that the county of Essequibo to which the Spanish speaking country claims, gives such access.
Minister Greenidge however made it clear that the Martine space including all minerals, on sea and in the air belongs to Guyana.
He added that 14 Caribbean countries are affected by Venezuela’s spurious maritime claims.
ExxonMobil vessels under contract by the company and its partners CNOOC of China and NEX of the USA were performing exploratory seismic work within the Stabroek block area of Guyana’s EEZ when they were intercepted at about 10:30h on December 22, 2018.
It was revealed that the Venezuelan Navy on the day of the attack on ExxonMobil attempted to land a helicopter on the Ramform Tethys (ship).
In previously condemning Venezuela’s action, the Foreign Affairs Minister noted that Venezuela was informed of the works that would be carried out in the said area of the attack and as such, noted that the attack was deliberate despite denial from the Venezuelan Government.
The Foreign Affairs Minister made it clear that Guyana has no interest in the Orinoco Delta and it is therefore misleading for Venezuela to claim that the Ranform Tethys was in that area.
Greenidge recently meet with the United States (US) National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere Affairs Director Mauricio Claver-Carone in Brazil over the matter.
Carone urged Venezuela to respect international law and the rights of its neighbours.
Further, The US State Department reiterated in a statement that “Guyana has the sovereign right to explore and exploit resources in its Exclusive Economic Zone.”
Guyana also has the support of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that recently reiterated “its full support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, including its right to peacefully explore and exploit its onshore and offshore resources.”
Last Year, the Guyana Government filed documents at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) outlining the issue being faced because of neighbouring Venezuela and outlined why it believes that the Court has a right to hear its case to settle the controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award.
Guyana is hoping that the International Court will in a final and binding judgment, determine the full legal validity of the arbitral award that established the international boundary between Guyana and Venezuela more than a century ago.
According to the Foreign Ministry, Guyana filed its Memorial in accordance with the Order of the Court dated 19 June 2018 that determined it would first resolve the question of the Court’s jurisdiction in light of Venezuela’s refusal to participate in the proceedings based on its claim that the Court lacks jurisdiction.
The Guyana Government with the support of the Opposition has urged Venezuela to cease its military actions and join Guyana in submitting its territorial case to the ICJ.