More than enough time has passed for the commencement of bilateral talks with Venezuela on the Maritime boundary issue and Guyana has insistently been lobbying for the first meeting to be initiated soon.
“We have sent several reminders …I know that enough time has passed for us to start and it’s time to push a little more for this,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett told Stabroek News when asked for an update on the status of the talks .
She had previously said that the political instability in Venezuela had prevented a technical meeting between the two nations to discuss maritime boundaries.
Guyana and Venezuela representatives were set to meet since February to further discuss maritime delimitation after the exploring vessel, MV Teknik Perdana, was seized by Caracas and later released in October 2013.
The vessel was indirectly under contract with Anadarko Petroleum Corporation to explore the Roraima Block with a view to determining whether commercial quantities of hydrocarbon existed. As a result of the seizure the plans have been shelved.
Guyana has been adamant that the ship was intercepted in this country’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The 36-member multinational crew on the Malaysian-owned (Sapura-Kencana Petroleum) and the Panamanian registered oil survey vessel included scientists from the Texas-based researcher TDI-Brooks International.
The ship was intercepted by a Venezuelan naval vessel, the Yakuana, then ordered and escorted to the island of Margarita. Both Guyana and Venezuela have maintained that the incident occurred in their territorial waters and had demanded explanations from one another. Guyana demanded Venezuela’s explanation on why it seized a ship in Guyana’s waters, while Venezuela demanded an explanation from Guyana on why it gave permission for a ship to operate in its (Venezuela’s) waters.
Following the incident, a hastily arranged meeting between the foreign ministers of Guyana and Venezuela on October 17 resulted in a decision to have the countries’ technical experts meet in four months to discuss maritime delimitation.
They also reiterated that dialogue and cooperation are the means for a peaceful solution of differences between States.
Caracas subsequently charged the captain of the vessel with violating Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone and the vessel and the rest of the crew were later released. The exploration plans of Andarko have also been put on hold.
The Foreign Minister said that while there was still political unrest in the neighbouring Spanish country she believes that at least the first meeting should be held.
“The first meeting is a technical meeting. We feel it should happen so we can go on to the next stage… [But] we haven’t yet been able to secure a date,” she said.
She noted that she would meet her Venezuelan counterpart Elías Jaua at the Organisation of American States (OAS) General Assembly, which opened in Paraguay yesterday and would remind him of the promised meeting.