Guyana’s territorial boundaries not up for discussion – President Ali
…agrees to dialogue with Maduro on Dec 14
…no discussions on territorial controversy – Guyana’s Opposition
…“I see great value for the communication” – SVG PM
Guyana’s land boundary is not up for discussion as the border case lies before the World Court, President Irfaan Ali has unequivocally said as he agreed to facilitate dialogue with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The Guyanese Head of State gave his approval for the meeting after he was contacted by leaders from the Community of States of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC), the Caribbean Community (Caricom) and UN Under-Secretary General.
Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves were integral behind this move, as they wrote a letter to Presidents Ali and Maduro. The highly-anticipated engagement is scheduled for December 14 in St Vincent.
Amid this development, the Office of the President issued a statement on Saturday which declared, “President Ali has since agreed to have this meeting…[He] reiterated that Guyana’s land boundary is not up for discussion, as it is currently before the ICJ and when adjudicated will be fully respected by Guyana. The President, on numerous occasions, has made it explicitly clear that the case before the ICJ will not be an issue for bilateral discussions.”
The missive added that the Guyanese leader will continue to engage bilateral partners on defence cooperation pacts, as well as the ongoing range of political, social and economic arrangements.
Ali reiterated that Guyana has always been in support of good neighbourly relations but will not deviate from the ICJ process in the resolution of the border controversy.
“Guyana is clear that the advancement of our development agenda will not be compromised. Our development partners and investors can be assured that there will be no changes nor alterations to existing arrangements. Guyana has always been committed to international peace and security and promotion of good neighbourly relations,” the communique outlined.
Earlier on Saturday, President Maduro engaged Brazilian and Vincentian leaders via a telephone call.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil later informed that the general consensus was to ‘preserve our aspiration to maintain Latin America and the Caribbean as a zone of peace, without interference from external actors, in accordance with what was agreed upon by both countries within the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC)’.
Maduro also spoke with Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, who committed to ‘promoting efforts in favour of direct dialogue between the parties’ and recalled that he has always offered his good offices for the solution of the controversy.
Given the recent events and circumstances attendant upon the border controversy, regional leaderships have assessed the urgent need to de-escalate the conflict and institute an appropriate dialogue, face-to-face between both Guyanese and Venezuelan leaders.
After receiving nods from both parties, Gonsalves outlined in a letter, “Both of you have agreed with me for such a meeting to be held under the auspices of CELAC of which St Vincent and the Grenadines is the Pro-Tempore President and Caricom of which the current Chairman is the Commonwealth of Dominica. Both of you have also requested the distinguished presence of the esteemed President of the Federative Republic of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.”
According to Gonsalves, the two Presidents concurred with this assessment in the quest of peaceful co-existence, the application and respect for international law, and the avoidance of the use or threats of force.
“Both of you are on public record of committing to the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace and the maintenance of international law. Experience has taught humanity that it is mature, wise, and preferable for leaders of nations which are in conflict, to speak to each other calmly, respectfully, and with patience, in order to avoid an escalation into threats or the use of force. To be sure, the resolution of old controversies in challenging contemporary times is never easy; for leaders it is strenuous, but a strenuous life pursued in peace is to be preferred to one of ignoble ease in perpetual conflict or violence endeavour.”
It was acknowledged that Guyana is seeking the resolution of the border controversy through the processes of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which is currently seized of the matter. Similarly, the leaders expressed cognisance of the fact that Venezuela has rejected the path of the ICJ as the modality for resolution.
The Parliament of Guyana has unanimously instructed the President not to discuss the border controversy with the Government of Venezuela. The people of Venezuela have advised, overwhelmingly, in a consultative referendum on December 3, 2023, their Government not to accept the jurisdiction of the ICJ in the matter of border controversy.
The letter added, “Clearly, each of you has to summon the proverbial wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and the foresight of all the ancient prophets to engender good neighbourliness in peace, justice, security, and prosperity for all concerned. There is thus much for each of you to raise and/or discuss on matters consequential to the border controversy even as you respect the advice, or more, of your respective peoples and Parliament/National Assembly.”
He ended, “Time is of the essence. Let us all resolve to make this historic gathering a successful one. So much is at stake for our Caribbean and Latin American civilisation.”
At a press conference held Saturday evening in St Vincent, Gonsalves when asked about the value of the meeting, since Guyana’s position is that the ICJ is addressing the matter, said, “I see great value for the communication…not to be talking is very dangerous and it is something I believe will weigh very heavily on people’s hearts and minds.”
He said that the meeting between the two Heads of State will be of great value.
No discussion on border
Meanwhile, in a statement issued after the intended meeting was announced, Guyana’s parliamentary Opposition said that it welcomes the action being taken by the international community to ensure there is peace between Guyana and Venezuela.
“The parliamentary Opposition wishes to make it quite clear that we are not opposed to dialogue or discussions with the President of Venezuela as this could lead to better relations between the Governments and peoples of our two countries,” Guyana’s Opposition said in a statement. It added that indeed, paragraph 3 of the Geneva Agreement recognises that “closer cooperation between British Guiana and Venezuela could bring benefit to both countries,” pointing out that it is for this reason since independence Guyana has sought and promoted bilateral relations with its western neighbour across a spectrum of issues including health, education, and other relevant areas of development.
“It is the considered view of the Opposition that the two leaders could continue to explore the expansion of bilateral issues which could improve the lives of the peoples of our two countries and contribute to the peaceful development of the Latin American and Caribbean region.”
However, the Opposition pointed out that there “must not be any discussions of the territorial controversy between our two countries as this matter is properly before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and this process must be allowed to take its course so that it is settled within the confines of international law.”
The parliamentary Opposition said that it remains committed to playing its role in the ongoing relationship between Guyana and Venezuela and will always work towards the protection of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Guyana.