Incursions into Guyana’s maritime, land space must stop – Granger
…tells GDF to always be prepared to defend
Just over a month after the Venezuelan navy attempted to intercept a vessel conducting 3-D seismic oil exploration activities offshore Guyana, President David Granger has stated that these incursions into Guyana’s maritime and land space must be stopped.
The commander-in-chief made this statement during his feature address at the opening ceremony of the Guyana Defence Force’s Annual Officers’ Conference on Thursday.
According to President Granger, Guyana has always been victim to claims – by Venezuela and Suriname – on its territory despite international recognition of its land mass, territorial borders, territorial sea and exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
He specially mentioned the December 22, 2018 incident whereby the Venezuelan
Navy corvette, the Karina PC-14, made a hostile incursion into Guyana’s EEZ, some 144 kilometres from the boundary that separates the two countries. A helicopter on the platform of the naval corvette attempted to land on the Ramform Tethys – an unarmed vessel contracted by ExxonMobil to undertaking seismic surveys at the western end of the Stabroek Block. The incursion forced the vessel to discontinue its operations at that time.
The Head of State posited this recent aggression by Venezuela is the second naval assault against Guyana’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. He reminded of the incident back in October 2013, where a petroleum exploration vessel – RV Teknik Perdana – conducting a survey in the Roraima block offshore, in Guyana’s EEZ, was intercepted by a Venezuelan Navy frigate and ordered to cease its. That vessel was ordered to sail to Margarita Island, where it was seized for six days before being subsequently released.
Furthermore, President Granger also recalled an incident involving Guyana’s Dutch neighbour. Back in June 2000, the Suriname Navy expelled a CGX licensed exploration vessel and drill ship, the C. E. Thornton, from Guyana’s waters.
These, according to the Head of State, all occurred within recent memory and while Guyana remains committed to ensuring that the Caribbean and continent of South America remain a zone of peace, these incursions should end.
“Incursions have occurred not only in our maritime space but also on land. Illegal mining, illegal logging, illegal arms, narcotics, people and wildlife trafficking and the smuggling of precious minerals have continued. They have to stop,” the President insisted.
He pointed out that citizens have been killed, especially those living in the frontier villages. As such, he underscored the need for the safety of these communities from transnational crime.
“The persistence of transnational crime alerts us to the need for continued vigilance to protect our airspace, land borders, coastline and territorial sea. Over-flights and landings by aircraft suspected of involvement in illegal activities undermine our territorial integrity and sovereignty. The influx of more than 3,000 migrants fleeing economic and political distress in Venezuela necessitates stronger controls along borders,” he asserted.
The Commander-in-Chief said the GDF must always be ready to deter aggression, defend national sovereignty and ensure the development of the country as a safe, secure and strong state.
“The Guyana Defence Force therefore, must maintain itself in a state of readiness to secure our entire country and protect it from present and future dangers,” he stated.
Referencing the Defence Act, President Granger added, “The Force therefore is obligated to secure the state and safeguard the entire territory from invasion, incursion and insurrection. Incursions must be deterred. Insurrections must be suppressed. The state must remain secure.”
The Head of State went onto acknowledge, however, the number challenges the army is faced with including its inability to effectively man the borders not only as a result of lack of human resources but because of the terrain of the hinterland region.
Moreover, he noted that in addition to working to boost recruitment to 50 per cent of the strength of the regular Force, the army is also working with frontier villages to protect its territory and natural resources as well as to repel threats to human safety.
“The Force is the vanguard of national defence. The Force is conscious of its duty to preserve our territory, protect our people and develop the economy by implementing our national defence doctrine. The Defence Force has been, and always must be, ready to deter aggression, defend sovereignty and ensure the development of our country as a safe, secure and strong state,” the Commander-in-Chief asserted.
Meanwhile, Chief-of-Staff, Brigadier Patrick West, in echoing the sentiments of the President, also assured that the GDF will continue to execute its mandate, particularly as it relates to upholding the country’s territorial integrity especially in light of ongoing exploration activities offshore Guyana.
This year’s GDF Officers Conference was held under the theme: “Effective Transformation for Total National Defence”.