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Guyana anxious for next step in resolving border controversy with Venezuela

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President David Granger will meet with the UN Secretary General António Guterres on September 25 to discuss progress in resolving the border controversy with Venezuela.

While Guyana has been willing to dialogue with Venezuela to resolve the border controversy, the current government has no plans on doing that forever. That was made clear today by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge.

“Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in 2015 (October) set a process in train and in setting that process in train, he called for a last effort at dialogue and that effort was to take one year.

“We are approaching two years since that request was made and that effort was launched. I don’t think there is any reason to expect that we could be requested to extend this time,” Greenidge said at a press conference at his Takuba Lodge, Georgetown Office this morning.

He added that while “Guyana has never had any difficulty speaking to Venezuela as regards attempts and its willingness to resolve the issue of the controversy and we will continue to be accommodating,” the country’s political, economic and social stability depends on the matter being resolved soonest.

In mid-February this year, the new UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Dag Halvor Nylander of Norway as his Personal Representative on the Border Controversy. The efforts at mediation would continue until the end of 2017.

“If, by the end of 2017, the Secretary-General concludes that no significant progress has been made towards arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy, he will choose the International Court of Justice as the next means of settlement, unless the Governments of Guyana and Venezuela jointly request that he refrain from doing so,” the UN had stated.

Minister Greenidge was unable to comment on any progress made towards resolving the controversy between Guyana and Venezuela through the UN Good Officer process, saying the process did not allow him to.

By the Geneva Agreement of 17 February 1966, Guyana and Venezuela have referred to the Secretary-General the decision as to means of settlement of the controversy that has arisen as the result of the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of 1899 about the frontier between Venezuela and what is now Guyana is null and void.

Guyana has accused Venezuela of a series of acts of aggression, starting with a Presidential decree of June 1968.  The border controversy flared again in early 2015 when American firm Exxon Mobil announced that it had made a “significant” oil discovery.

After threatening the company, the Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro issued a decree on May 26, 2015, seeking to extend Venezuela’s land claim to also annex the country’s maritime space. Four years ago, Venezuela sent a naval ship into Guyanese waters and seized a U.S.-chartered oil survey ship and escorted it to Margarita Island.

In September 2015, Guyanese authorities also said the Venezuela army was up the Cuyuni River. In October, Canadian-based mining company Guyana Goldfields said it had received an “unfounded” notification of possible legal action by Venezuela over its operations in Guyana.

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