Internal tensions could “weaken” Guyana on world stage – Greenidge

Guyana-Venezuela border controversy

Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge said on Thursday that the domestic issues facing Guyana could have a negative impact on the country’s image internationally as the border controversy matter with Venezuela continues before the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
He made this comment during a symposium hosted by the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) where he called for a united front between Government and the Opposition on the Guyana-Venezuela border controversy even as the outcome of court rulings over the December 21, 2018 no-confidence resolution loomed.
“I myself don’t think that it was a coincidence. The Venezuelans were notified on December 6 and 7 and they said nothing; the works started and they did nothing, but when they did move, it was immediately after this internal problem,” the Foreign Affairs Minister opined.
He further said that settling the issue would address Venezuela’s recent maritime transgressions, which, among other things, were aimed at the country gaining access to the Atlantic through the Essequibo region. It was one day after the 33-32 passage of the Opposition filed motion that Venezuelan Navy operatives temporarily intercepted an ExxonMobil-contracted oil exploration vessel offshore the Stabroek Block in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The ExxonMobil vessels under contract by the company and its partners, CNOOC of China and NEX of the USA, were performing exploratory seismic work when they were intercepted about 10:30h on December 22, 2018.
Greenidge posited that our internal divisions “could weaken” the country on the international stage. “They weaken us in the eyes of our enemies. They believe that when we are divided, we don’t have as much of a voice internationally,” he stressed.
At the same time, the senior Cabinet member explained that the maritime issue could not be sorted out unless the land controversy was finally put to rest since a country would needed a coastline to stake a claim to maritime space. The Minister also outlined that the sections of the Stabroek Block where the vessel was intercepted was far removed from the area, where Guyana’s western neighbour claimed there were Orinoco River delta deposits.
“The Orinoco delta is roughly 120 kilometres from the boundary that constitutes Guyana’s EEZ … it’s not nearby, you can’t just wish that you were a couple of miles different,” he noted.
Greenidge further said that Venezuela’s 2015 decree affected the maritime boundaries of 14 Caribbean countries. He has made it clear that the marine space, including all minerals, under sea and in the air, belonged to Guyana.
Despite Guyana moving to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to clear up the controversy, Bloomberg News has reported on Venezuela’ controversial plans to remap its Caribbean off shore oil in the next few months which could further add to tensions with Guyana.
Officials at the state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela were tight-lipped on the matter, but, according to reports, the new survey will also include areas bordering the Caricom nations of Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Last year, the Guyana Government filed documents at the ICJ outlining the challenges created by Venezuela and outlined why it believes that the Court has a right to hear its case to settle the border controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award.
Greenidge recently met with the 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”.
During Wednesday’s symposium, retired Major General Joe Singh gave a presentation outlining the historical background to the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award that later became a matter of contention.