Guyana to object to Venezuelan political mediators using Essequibo controversy as negotiating tool

Last Updated on Sunday, 12 September 2021, 20:47 by Denis Chabrol

President Irfaan Ali on Sunday said he planned to voice his objection to the mediating nations after Venezuela’s  opposition and government united in their call for bilateral negotiations to settle the claim to the oil-rich Essequibo Region.

“As far as we are concerned, if they have an engagement, whichever country believes that they have an engagement with Venezuela in resolving their internal issues , they should stick to the internal issues. The issue of the controversy that exists in the border has nothing to do with their internal issues and it has already been determined where that issue will be settled and it’s at the ICJ (International Court of Justice) ,” he told reporters.

The Norway-brokered deal was reached earlier this month in Mexico alongside representatives from The Netherlands, Bolivia, Russia and Turkey. Guyana has longstanding diplomatic relations with communist Russia which has in recent years helped to bail out socialist Venezuela from its prolonged economic woes. Norway and Guyana have reopened talks on a new compensation package for this country to retain its standing tropical forests to absorb greenhouse gases.

President Ali wants those countries to convince Venezuela to participate in the case at the ICJ.  “What we can ask those countries to do  is to encourage Venezuela to participate and be active in the ICJ,” he said.

In in addition to taking his stance to other CARICOM leaders at an emergency meeting scheduled for Monday morning , he would also making Guyana’s position known at upcoming meetings in Mexico City and a meeting with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Gutteres on the margins of the UN General Assembly later this month.

“This is a controversy. The route in determining it has already been made public. We have embraced that route which is the ICJ and we are committed to that route. That route is the rule of law and that is where the matter resides, not in any side show or any other engagement,” he said.

The Government of Guyana, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Tuesday, September 7, stating that the agreement “is an overt threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Guyana,” and that “Guyana cannot be used as an altar of sacrifice for settlement of Venezuela’s internal political differences” since the matter is with the pertinent authority.

The ICJ ruled last December that it has jurisdiction to decide Guyana’s claim against Venezuela that the boundary between the two States was fixed in an 1899 Arbitral Award.

Venezuela is opposed to the ICJ and its ruling.

Guyana is however seeking to obtain a final and binding judgement that will clearly state that the Essequibo region is indisputably part of this country.