Long-term resolution needed for Roraima block exploration, Rodrigues-Birkett says

- Girvan to float steps to address border controversy

Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett says further seismic exploration of the Roraima Block is contingent on a longer term resolution to the border controversy between Guyana and Venezuela.

“If you are going to resolve the matter and both countries have held on to their positions that it was in their jurisdiction then you have to find a longer term solution. That is where it is right now,” she told Stabroek News yesterday.

Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett
Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett
 Norman Girvan
Norman Girvan

Two Thursdays ago, a US-operated ship, the Teknik Perdana, was conducting seismic surveys in the Roraima Block when it was intercepted and escorted to the Venezuelan island of Margarita by a Venezuelan naval vessel. The ship and its crew were under contract by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation at the time the incident occurred.

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.

Last Thursday, delegations from Guyana and Venezuela met in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad in an effort to decide on the way forward.

During the meeting, both sides committed to resolving the matter through peaceful means and agreed to have technical representatives meet in four months to decide on a permanent solution.

Missing, however, was a formal indication as to whether Guyana would be able to continue its oil-exploration ventures while the two countries worked out their maritime differences.

Yesterday, however, the minister indicated that a decision in that regard was implied.

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) yesterday announced that a proposal by Norman Girvan, who is the personal representative of the UN Secretary General in the Good Offices process, to offer a series of further steps on addressing the controversy, has been welcomed by both sides.

A statement released by the UN said that Girvan had “productive separate meetings” with the foreign ministers of Guyana and Venezuela last Thursday. Both of them, the statement said, emphasised the excellent bilateral relations that currently exist between the two states.

It added that in recalling the progress made under the Good Offices process in the recent past, the ministers welcomed the personal representative’s initiative to “suggest a series of further steps to address the border controversy. These steps could include a schedule of meetings to move the process forward over the coming months.”

Girvan, according to the statement, noted with appreciation the expression of confidence by both ministers in the Good Offices process under the auspices of the United Nations Secretary-General and  he is looking forward to providing the ministers with suggestions in the coming weeks, and discussing them with each of them in the near future.

Last week, the Teknik Perdana and its 36-member-crew were released although charges were laid against its captain, Ukrainian Igor Bekirov, by Venezuelan’s Attorney General’s Office for violating Venezuela’s exclusive economic zone.

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