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Western countries urge Guyana to speak out in favour of Ukraine

US Embassy Charge D’Affaires, Bryan Hunt (standing); Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Nicole Giles and Britain’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Andrew Ayre.

The United States, Britain and Canada on Thursday urged Guyana’s diplomatic support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity, saying that this South American country also has border problems with its neighbours and should seek to consolidate the principles of international law.

“Clearly, there are a few countries that have illegitimate claims to Guyana’s territory and therefore there is a parallel here and clearly we wouldn’t want conflict in Guyana… ,” said British High Commissioner to Guyana, Andrew Ayre.

Venezuela continues to claim the mineral and forest-rich Essequibo, which is about two-thirds of Guyana’s territory, while Suriname maintains that the New River Triangle area in south-eastern Guyana is that former Dutch colony’s territory.

The Commonwealth of which Guyana, Britain and Canada are members has always backed this former British colony in maintaining its sovereignty over the Essequibo Region. The Organisation of American States (OAS) has also endorsed Guyana’s sovereignty over the land within its western border.

Guyana earlier this year abstained in voting at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to declare a Russia-backed referendum in Ukraine’s Crimea as invalid. Observers have said that the Guyana government does not want to hurt its relations with Russia because it cannot afford to lose RUSAL’s vital bauxite investments at Aroaima that can result in a loss of revenue and jobs.

US Embassy Charge D’Affaires, Bryan Hunt added that every country has a stake in what happens in Ukraine because if Russia’s incursion continues, international law could be damaged. “At the end of the day if we allow any country to occupy the territory of another we are simply undercutting hundreds of years of international rules of law,” said the American envoy.

Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Nicole Giles said her country, Britain and the US would like to see Guyana issue a statement committing itself to the international principles of the respect for the inviolability of international borders and the peaceful means to settle disputes. “It matters to both Canada and Guyana whether international laws are being broken,” she said, adding that both her country and Guyana depend on international order and laws to advance commercial, political and citizen-protection interests.