Guyana expects ‘strong’ CHOGM support on border controversy

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) is set to make a “strong declaration” in support of Guyana’s position in its border controversy with Venezuela, the Government Information Agency (GINA) said in a statement yesterday, quoting outgoing Secretary-General Dr Kamalesh Sharma as saying, “Guyana is at the heart of the Commonwealth.”

The CHOGM, which is being held in Malta, ends today and a communique will be issued on resolutions taken at the meeting.

Sharma noted that the Commonwealth had previously expressed solidarity with Guyana on the issue.

Meanwhile, GINA said, President David Granger, who is attending the meeting and participated in an all-day Heads of Delegation Retreat said the agenda dealt with three main areas: violent extremism and radicalisation which dealt to some extent with transnational terrorism; the question of migration and the implementation of the sustainable development goals.

“I expect the Caribbean Community to take the lead in arriving at some mechanism, through which intelligence could be shared and there could be collective responses because it is clear that terrorists come from outside of the region and we have to be very careful about that. There is no way a single country could deal with terrorism. There has to be a multi-State approach,” the release quoted the President as saying.

He added, “Guyana was pleased that the Commonwealth is going to establish a form of a task force, which is going to investigate the sources of this extremism. Guyana was concerned that in addition to the terror which was perpetrated in Paris, France two weeks ago, many Commonwealth countries have suffered terrorism, particularly Nigeria which lost over 10,000 persons over the last six years, Kenya and of course Guyana itself was the victim of terror a long time ago – the Cubana Disaster. So we are very concerned and we expect that the Commonwealth is going to take action to investigate the violent extremism that is prevalent now and come up with a community solution.”

With regard to migration, President Granger said that while migration should not be conflated with terrorism, every country has to ensure the security of its own interests. “It is accepted that uncontrolled migration could be a source of moving terrorists from one place to the other; one country to the other. It is a question of sharing of information to prevent any jeopardy in terms of the security of nation states,” he was quoted as saying.

According to the release, he said the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are at the top of Guyana’s domestic agenda. “Guyana has already accepted that it has to improve education, it has to improve access to jobs, it has to strengthen the economy, if we are to attain these goals,” the release quoted him as saying.

Meantime it was reported that Guyana continued to focus on bilateral engagements in both formal and informal meetings at all levels.

Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge, who also attended the CHOGM held meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Namibia, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs/ International Affairs of Uganda, Oryem Henry Okello. The release said that some of the areas addressed included economic cooperation and trade, climate change and women’s rights.

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