Diplomacy is Guyana’s 1st line of defence – Greenidge
…importance of “defence diplomacy” cited by Chief of Staff
By Jarryl Bryan
Diplomacy remains an integral weapon in Guyana’s arsenal and in light of the recent acts of aggression by Venezuela against Guyana, the importance of diplomacy has taken front and centre in the national effort.
Guyana’s international relation efforts have brought the verbal support of the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and members of the international community including the ABC countries (the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada).
On Saturday, President Dr Irfaan Ali delivered a presidential address, followed by him and a panel of top officials fielding questions from the public and media. The entire panel emphasised the importance of diplomacy being pursued to resolve the matter and to avoid an armed conflict. According to Advisor on Borders Carl Greenidge, diplomacy constitutes Guyana’s first response.
“In international relations, the first response of allies and members of the international community who may not be allies is to use diplomatic means. The first reaction isn’t to meet breaches of international law with force. They use various devices at their means as recalcitrance persists.”
“So don’t expect tomorrow that the international community is going to send troops and boats overnight, to fix this problem. They’ll bring pressure to bear on Venezuela and escalate that, until such a time as they deem any other action necessary.”
Meanwhile, President Ali noted that their diplomatic efforts are bearing fruit with the condemnation that has flowed against the Nicolás Maduro regime.
“We have strong condemnation from international organisations and bilateral partners, from Caricom (Caribbean Community) itself (against Venezuela). That is the first phase, to have this international condemnation. And there is international support for Guyana.”
“As I said, we pursue the resolution of this conflict. We are committed to the International Court of Justice, to peaceful resolution and also to diplomacy. And through diplomacy, we have seen overwhelming support for Guyana’s case and cause,” the President said.
Defending Guyana’s territory
Meanwhile, Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Chief of Staff Brigadier General Godfrey Bess noted that while the GDF is committed to defending Guyana’s territory, the clear intent is for a peaceful resolution to the matter through the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and “defence diplomacy.”
“We continue to cooperate and work with our friendly militaries in the Caribbean and further afield, which include our neighbours Brazil and Suriname. Our soldiers are strategically positioned to ensure Guyana’s patrimony is upheld… while our military might be small, I’m leading men and women with big hearts to defend this country,” he said.
On January 21, two Guyanese-registered fishing vessels and a 12-man crew that were operating off the coast of Waini Point in Guyana’s EEZ were intercepted by the Venezuelan naval vessel, Commandante Hugo Chavez GC 24, which was illegally traversing Guyana’s waters.
The Venezuelans boarded the vessels and the captains were instructed to chart a course to Port Guiria where they were detained and are being kept to this day. The men have since been brought before a Venezuelan court and reports indicate they will be kept in custody for some 45 days pending an investigation.
Since then, however, a number of countries have condemned Venezuela’s actions and urged the Spanish-speaking country to release the fishermen. Last week, the OAS Permanent Council met to discuss, among other things, the tensions between Guyana and Venezuela.
During the Permanent Council’s virtual meeting, Guyana’s Permanent Representative to the OAS Riyad Insanally informed the Council about the recent actions of Venezuela and a number of countries on the Council took a firm stance against Venezuela, including the US, Canada, Trinidad, Brazil, Antigua and Barbuda and Belize.
The Permanent Council is one of the two main political bodies of the OAS, the other being the General Assembly. The Permanent Council keeps vigilance over the maintenance of friendly relations among the member states and, for that purpose, effectively assists them in the peaceful settlement of their disputes. (G3)