No short term resolution of border controversy expected – Granger

Government is not expecting an answer to a request for a juridical settlement of the ongoing border controversy with Venezuela in the short term, according to President David Granger, who nonetheless is confident that United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is actively looking at the matter.

“He is fully engaged and I am confident that he will be able to within, maybe half a year or so, to identify the process. He is not going to resolve the problem but he has to identify the process which presumably would lead to a solution and in this regard he must… try to secure the compliance of the government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. So I wouldn’t hold my breath,” he said during a recording of “The Public Interest” television programme last Friday.

Granger told reporters that he is very “impressed” by the attitude of the current UN Secretary General, who he notes was fully engaged and had sent two officials to Georgetown on two occasions.

He, however, noted that one of the officials subsequently received an appointment within the Argentine government and as a result a replacement was required and this might have caused a delay in the process.

According to Granger, the Secretary General will demit office in about a year’s time and it is expected that towards the next General Assembly or towards the last quarter of next year “we would be in a better position. We would know where we are heading… he is doing his best but the process is not a swift one.”

Reminding reporters that the territorial controversy has been going on for over 50 years, Granger who is also a historian, noted that a definitive answer to Guyana’s request for a juridical settlement will not happen in the short term.

In the last year or so, both the former PPP/C administration and the new APNU+AFC government have publicly stated that they favour a juridical settlement as the Good Offices process had made no progress in 25 years and had emboldened Caracas to interfere with investments in Guyana’s waters and to engage in aggressive acts.

Shortly after taking up office on May 16, 2015, Granger was forced to deal with the border controversy after a maritime decree issued by Venezuela sought to swallow up a large portion of Guyana’s Atlantic sea front.

The decree, which has now been superseded by a less offensive but still problematic one, has seen strong statements by the President in Parliament, at a Caricom Heads of Government summit in Barbados, at a gathering of Mercosur leaders in Brazil, at the UN General Assembly and at the William J Perry Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in the US decrying Venezuelan aggression against Guyana.

The decree was issued shortly after an offshore oil discovery by ExxonMobil Corp in Guyana’s waters. Prior to the discovery, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Delcy Rodrigues had written to Exxon several times objecting to the exploration.

Days after Exxon’s announcement of the significant oil find, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro issued the offending decree.

Venezuela has long sought to obstruct efforts by Guyana to discover oil.

At every available forum, Guyana has presented statements on the ongoing controversy with the aim of gathering more international support.

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