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Foreign Ministry justifies decision to include border experts on Guyana’s team for World Court case against Venezuela

Last Updated on Wednesday, 17 November 2021, 12:12 by Denis Chabrol

In the wake of a leaked letter by Guyana’s Agent for the border case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Carl Greenidge, the Foreign Affairs Ministry  late Tuesday night sought to explain its decision to include two border experts in the process.

In a letter dated April 7, 2021, Mr. Greenidge objected to  Head of the Frontiers Section, Donnette Streete and Guyana’s Ambassador to Suriname, Keith George being included in the team. “Whilst Ambassador George is not without skills, he is clearly not a lawyer and in combination with Ms  Streete cannot replace, as our external lawyers and the maritime expert,” Mr. Greenidge told President Irfaan Ali.

But the Ministry of Foreign Affairs bemoaned the virtual exclusion of Ms. Streete, who has 14 years of experience in the Frontiers Department, then Head of the Legal and Treaties Division Ms. Trishala Persaud and Ambassador George who had served as Head of Frontiers and has racked up 21 years of experience in Guyana’s land and maritime boundaries. The Ministry wishes to state that the Hon. Minister Hugh Todd recognised that the local team
previously assembled under the APNU/AFC (A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change) administration did not include some key persons who have years of professional knowledge on the Guyana/Venezuela controversy,”  the ministry said.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry indicated that Ms. Streete , Ambassador George and other persons have since been included in the process. “Several other persons with great knowledge of the boundaries of Guyana because of their
background in the security services of Guyana were not invited to provide their inputs.  “They were each identified and invited by the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to lend their support to this preeminent national effort and their involvement has the full support of His Excellency President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali,” the ministry added.

Justification for including them as well as others because of their “background in the security services of Guyana” was to give Foreign Minister Todd all available local expertise, specialist and technical support and assistance  that are  available to Guyana’s international legal team “in order for them to access, with ease, the best possible sources of information, experience and ideas on the matter before the International Court of Justice. None of those persons joined the local team at their own bidding.”

Mr. Greenidge also complained to the President that Guyana’s legal team had been unfairly targeted during the meeting he had been part of with Minister Todd and Minister of Governance Gail Teixeira. But the Foreign Affairs Ministry stated that Guyana’s legal team was intact.

“The drama of the meeting, including allegations about the monetary motives of the legal team, was captured on video. Taping the session, according to the Minister Todd, was for the benefit of the lawyers. I believe however that such action would incense and anatgonise any set of advisers, let alone ones who have worked for so ling with success for the government of Guyana,” he told the President.

“The Ministry wishes to make it clear that the discussions referred to in the letter quoted in the electronic media were not about the case before the International Court of Justice. There was therefore never any reason to question the competence of the international team of lawyers who are not only held in extremely high esteem, but also are regarded as the best that can be put together to represent Guyana’s interests,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Back on April 7, Mr. Greenidge had said that the meeting of the Ministerial Advisory Committee had made his position as Agent and Advisor to the Minister “untenable in the light of not only the questioning and misrepresentation of my judgement and decisions but the comments he made to the Directors of the MoFA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) about my status.”

From the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s perspective, Mr. Greenidge is still Agent and participated in a meeting that the Foreign Affairs Minister convened on Tuesday, November 16. “That meeting was quite cordial and focused on the issues being addressed before the International Court of Justice,” the ministry said. Also participating in that meeting were Attorney-at-Law  Ralph Ramkarran and Foreign Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Robert Persaud.