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Caricom must coordinate stance on Ukraine- Granger

Opposition Leader, David Granger on Friday urged the 14 independent Caribbean Community (Caricom) member states to craft a unified position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military action against Ukraine.

“It is not in our interest now to adopt one or the other position before understanding the issues involved and I think it is a very complex matter,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

Granger’s comments came one day after the United States, Britain and Canada called on Guyana to issue a statement on the inviolability of international borders and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

The Opposition Leader, who shares parliamentary responsibility for foreign relations with fellow MP Africo Selman, stressed that Caricom needed to coordinate its foreign policy position on this matter before taking a position. “I believe that this matter needs to be more thoroughly discussed within the Caribbean Community before a statement is issued,” he added. “Before Guyana jumps into the debate and the dispute, they should inform themselves about the geostrategic and the geopolitical situation in that part of the world,” he said.

The American, British and Canadian envoys on Thursday said Guyana needed to be cognizant of illegal claims to its territory and take a firm stance on Russia’s actions against Crimea and Ukraine.

But Granger pointed out that the Crimea issue is more than 100 years old. “It was a surprise to me to know that Crimea belonged to Ukraine because it is always part of Russia and the fact is that most of the people in Crimea are Russian and they don’t want to be part of Ukraine.”

The Opposition Leader hinted that there are issues affecting Russia’s security in that area.

The US has imposed fresh sanctions on key Russian businesses including a bank, arms manufacturer and shale exploration company in response to Russia’s deployment of troops and arms to support pro-Russian separatist rebels.

Caricom in March, 2014 expressed deep concerns about developments in Ukraine and called on all parties involved to act with self-restraint and responsibility in order to reduce tensions and avoid destabilisation in that region.

“The Community supports the people of Ukraine in their efforts to settle their differences peacefully, and calls for the respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Caricom has said.

The regional grouping had also called for the use of international mediation and/or negotiations, to address security and human rights concerns in Ukraine, under the auspices of the United Nations.

But one month later; Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas, Barbados and Haiti were among the 100 countries that voted with the US at the United Nations General Assembly to condemn Moscow’s involvement in Crimea’s secession from Ukraine in favour of returning to the geographical and political fold of Russia.

Guyana was among the 58 abstentions. The others were Antigua and Barbuda, Jamaica, Suriname, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Lucia and St.Vincent and the Grenadines. Grenada and Belize did not participate in the vote.