Last Updated on Wednesday, 6 December 2017, 18:12 by Denis Chabrol
Guyana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge on Wednesday sought to preempt any opposition criticisms of a lot of overseas trips, saying that government could not allow “penny-pinching” as it seeks to resolve the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.
“Negotiating in these circumstances is an expensive business,” he said, adding that Guyana’s team at any one time is between 10 and 14 persons including experts on international law, maritime law and constitutional law. “When you look at the budget and you see money spent on travel, it is my view as it was the view of someone that I started working with that you cannot afford to be penny-pinching or to say that you cannot afford to defend your territory.
Top government officials have confirmed that in recent months the Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Presidency’s travel budgets have been virtually depleted, resulting in a severe cutback in the size of delegations.
Greenidge added that, “You have to be able to find resources to this work and we have tried to do that,” he said., adding that representatives have also been drawn from civil society and the opposition. The Foreign Minister credited the opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) with participating in those talks.
In his contribution to the 2018 National Budget debate, Greenidge announced that he would be meeting with the Ambassador Dag Nylander, who is the United Nations Secretary General’s Special Representative on the controversy, on Friday in Antigua.
Greenidge guardedly disclosed to the House that so far talks with Nylander have centered on proposals, ideas, and concerns about the need for a predictable framework. The minister said Guyana has informed the UN Chief that the exercise has been costly for Guyana and hoped that he would stick to his commitment to send the controversy to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Sources familiar with the plans told Demerara Waves Online News that the meeting between Greenidge and Nylander is rather informal and merely has to do with “available venues and convenience”.
Venezuela would not be participating in that meeting in Antigua.
The Foreign Minister said Guyana needed to build alliances with countries like Belize and others in the Indian Ocean that also have border controversies as well as work generally with other countries on embracing other principles.
Guyana is banking on the decision by then United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon that the border controversy over the 1899 Arbitral Tribunal border award, if unresolved by the end of 2017, would give into Guyana’s demands to take it to the ICJ.