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Opposition Leader “astonished” at joint statement on border spat

Opposition Leader, David Granger

Opposition Leader, David Granger on Friday expressed astonishment at a joint statement that emerged from border talks between the Foreign Ministers of Venezuela and Guyana.

He said the statement issued after six hours of talks in Trinidad between Foreign Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and her Venezuelan counterpart Elias Jaua did not deal with the Venezuelan Navy’s actions last week Thursday.

“The ‘Joint Statement’ merely “agreed to explore mechanisms within the context of international law to address the issue of maritime delimitation.” It did not address the dangerous use, or threat of the use, of armed force by Venezuela against Guyana which is in contravention of Art. 2 (4) of the Charter of the United Nations,” the Opposition Leader said.

A Venezuelan naval vessel last week intercepted and arrested a scientific research vessel in the Exclusive Economic Zone off the Essequibo coast that both countries claim as theirs. Teknik Perdana, with a 36-member multinational crew aboard, was expected to be released after more than one week in custody off Margarita.

Foreign Minister Rodrigues-Birkett said after the two countries insisted that the area where the ship was intercepted is their territory, they decided to begin preparations for the commencement of maritime boundary delimitation negotiations.

“Both parties held on to their positions that the ship was in their respective jurisdictions and this is why it was important that we agree on a process forward of delimiting our maritime boundary,” she told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com).

Rodrigues-Birkett and Jaua agreed to explore mechanisms within the context of international law to address the issue of maritime delimitation. “To this end, they agreed that a technical team would meet within four months to exchange views on how such delimitation could proceed,” the two delegations said in a statement.

The Opposition Leader also wants himself and President Donald Ramotar to convene a border and national security committee to consider the implications of, and Guyana’s response to, the unprecedented seizure of an unarmed, scientific survey vessel by the Venezuelan Navy.

Granger said his call was based on the June 2001 Report of the Border and National Security Committee of which he was co-Chairman. The Report recommended, inter alia, that the highest level of consultations for discussion and resolution of issues pertaining to border and national security issues should take place between the President and Leader of the Opposition.  “This level of engagement represents the core of the bi-partisan approach,” he said.
Granger’s A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has already given unwavering solidarity to the Guyana government in addressing this latest border spat with Venezuela.