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Guyana wouldn’t sacrifice territory for short-term gain- Foreign Minister

Flash back: Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and her Venezuelan counterpart Elias Jaua signing a Joint Statement at the end of almost six hours of talks in Port of Spain, Trinidad on October 17,2013.

Guyana on Thursday vowed not to give up an inch of its territory in exchange for short-term benefits, in the wake of Venezuela’s navy arresting a seismic research ship in Guyana’s waters off the Essequibo Coast.

“Guyana will not, I repeat will not, compromise its principles nor sacrifice any of its national patrimony for ephemeral gains displayed on the altar of cooperation,” said Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett.

She was at the time delivering a statement to the National Assembly on the incident involving the illegal arrest of the RV Teknik Perdana by a Venezuelan Naval Vessel in Guyana’s Exclusive Economic Zone on October 10.

Guyana benefits from concessionary oil prices under the PetroCaribe facility. Venezuela has also helped to fund and partly staff a rehabilitation and reintegration home at Onverwagt.

In apparent reference to A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) that Guyana should have extracted a posture in the joint statement about the use of force at the end of a meeting between the two Foreign Ministers in Trinidad on October 17, Rodrigues-Birkett defended her decision to push for negotiations to begin on the delimitation of the maritime boundary.

She explained that Venezuela was unshakable in its position that according to its line of delineation, the RV Teknik Perdana was in Venezuelan waters while Guyana maintained that the vessel was in Guyana’s waters.

“Given our inflexible positions, the only possible other outcomes were either separate Statements or a Joint Statement reflecting the positions of both sides. That Mr. Speaker would have been a ludicrous, pointless and very unfortunate outcome. The PPPC Government would not advocate such a result.

Instead Mr. Speaker, at Guyana’s insistence a paragraph was agreed on which has served to establish a process for the eventual delimitation of the maritime boundary between Guyana and Venezuela,” she said.

The Guyanese Foreign Minister noted that both Guyana and Venezuela agreed on the “precise location” where the research vessel was detained and escorted under arms to a Venezuelan port.

Guyana maintained that it is an incontrovertible fact, supported by all the relevant principles of international law that the RV Teknik Perdana was well within Guyana’s waters.

Venezuela’s suggestion to put the maritime boundary dispute in the hands of the United Nations Secretary General’s Good Officer, she said, was rejected.

Authorities here further added that the rejection of the use of force in the settlement of disputes is a principle enshrined in international law governing the peaceful relations between and among States.

The Foreign Minister has written the Secretaries General of the Caribbean Community, the Organisation of American States, the Commonwealth and the United Nations as well as to the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Suriname in that country’s capacity as Pro Tempore Chair of UNASUR, apprising them of the situation and the outcome of her meeting with the Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Mr. Elias Jaua.