Guyana on Wednesday virtually ruled out considering any request for an extension of time before the United Nations (UN) refers the border controversy with Venezuela to the World Court.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge indicated that Guyana was in no mood to entertain any request for more time beyond this year-end to decide whether the controversy should be taken to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Right now, there is in the Secretary General’s communication to the two countries a process and the process has time-lines and, notwithstanding our concerns about some of the ideas of the SG, we embraced the process on the understanding that it will be implemented in good faith by all parties including the United Nations,” he said.
He noted that then UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon in October 2015 had set the ground-rules for a last effort at dialogue. “I don’t think that there is any reason to expect that we could be requested to extend this time,” he said.
Greenidge’s announcement comes as President David Granger prepares to address the UN General Assembly and meet with UN Secretary General, António Guterres and his personal representative in the border controversy, Dag Halvor Nylander on September 25.
The Foreign Minister said the President’s address to the UN General Assembly is expected to send a clear message that Guyana wants the UN Secretary General to stick to the deadline. “The President’s statement will no doubt make reference to the process and Guyana’s wish to ensure that the SG (Secretary General) adheres to the commitment that he made to facilitate dialogue between the parties and to ensure that by the end of 2017 if there was no resolution or significant progress towards resolution then the matter will be referred to the ICJ and doubtless he will have some things to say on that,” he said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News.
Nylander has engaged in several unannounced and low-profile shuttle diplomacy trips between Georgetown and Caracas.
Guyana maintains that the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal Award is full, final and perfect settlement of the land boundary with Venezuela.
Venezuela has over the years filed objections with gold mining and oil exploration companies that have been exploiting or searching for valuable natural resources onshore and offshore Guyana.
Several years ago, the Venezuelan Navy intercepted and escorted a seismic vessel, Teknick Perdana, that had been conducting surveys offshore Essequibo on behalf of the United States oil company, Anadarko.
Days after the American oil-giant, ExxonMobil, had announced the discovery of oil in commercial quantities offshore Guyana, Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro announced the unilateral extension of his country’s maritime boundary to take in all of the Atlantic sea offshore Essequibo.
That move had also taken in the sea-space of several Caribbean island nations and had stretched as far as Suriname and French Guiana.