Venezuela border controversy: Allow legal process to work in addressing border dispute – EU

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EU Ambassador to Guyana Rene van Nes

– says not in support of ‘unilateral action’ that can ‘escalate’

Weighing in on Venezuela’s border controversy, the European Union (EU) on Friday urged both parties to allow the legal proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to work in addressing the dispute.

EU’s Ambassador to Guyana, Rene Van Nes joined calls for the due process to be followed during a press conference, amid Venezuela’s planned referendum that seeks to annex Guyana’s territory in the Essequibo region.

At this time, the EU diplomat underscored that in light of the fact that the international court is the agreed pathway to bring this matter to finality, both parties must avoid any escalations or unilateral actions.

“The position of the EU is that we strongly feel that international law and multilateral institutions are the appropriate framework for addressing international disputes. And when it comes to the recent statements, actions, and everything that we have seen on the Essequibo, the EU calls on all sides to avoid unilateral actions or escalations in light of the ongoing proceedings that are happening at the International Court of Justice. We, very clearly, refer to the court of justice, as the agreed mechanism to deal with this situation,” Van Nes disclosed.

Venezuela renewed its claim to Guyana’s Essequibo region back in 2015, mere days after it was announced that US oil giant ExxonMobil had discovered oil in commercial quantities in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana, where there are now proven reserves of nearly 11 billion oil-equivalent barrels.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that the Guyana Government sought the World Court’s intervention to prevent Venezuela from taking action through its planned referendum to annex Guyana’s Essequibo region.

One of the questions in the referendum that Guyana is seeking an order against is the very first one, which asks the Venezuelan people to reject the boundary between the two countries that was set in the 1899 Arbitral Award following a process of arbitration.

Guyana is also seeking the Court’s intervention against question three, which asks the Venezuelan people not to recognise the ICJ’s jurisdiction, even though the Court had thrown out Venezuela’s previous attempt to get the Court not to accept jurisdiction over the case.

Finally, the Court’s intervention is being sought for question five. Question five asks the Venezuelan people to agree to the annexation of Essequibo and the creation of a Venezuelan state. Additionally, question five seeks the citizens’ approval for, among other things, Venezuela granting citizenship and identity cards to residents of Essequibo.

According to the ICJ, Guyana is also seeking an order from the Court that “Venezuela shall not take any actions that are intended to prepare or allow the exercise of sovereignty or de facto control over any territory that was awarded to British Guiana in the 1899 Arbitral Award”; and further, that “Venezuela shall refrain from any action which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court, or make it more difficult to resolve.”

Over the past few weeks, several regional bodies, including the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the Organisation of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Amalgro, who has already condemned Venezuela’s actions, have called for the Spanish-speaking country to adhere to a peaceful settlement of the border controversy and desist from any aggressive actions.

The Permanent Council of the OAS held a special session following a request by Guyana this week, where Prime Minister Mark Phillips highlighted the country’s concerns regarding the Spanish-speaking nation’s increase of military troops near the border.

At that time, the United States of America also declared its support for Guyana’s sovereign rights. US Ambassador to the Organisation of American States (OAS), Frank Mora informed the hemispheric body of his Government’s support for Guyana’s sovereign rights.