Greenidge says no reason to expect request for extension of Good Offices process

The Guyana Government has been patient in adhering to the United Nations process for the resolution of its border controversy with Venezuela but it believes that by the end of this year a decision should be made by the Secretary General, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge.

“I don’t think that there is any reason to expect that we could be requested to extend this time,” Greenidge said on Wednesday.

“As Guyana has constantly stressed, the consequences of… the behaviour of Venezuela in respect to this controversy has been to undermine Guyana’s development… and stability, both social and political. We are not in a position to embrace any proposal to make this a permanent state,” he added.  Greenidge held a press briefing on Wednesday to inform of Guyana’s participation at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly meeting, which is to be held from September 18 to September 26.

President David Granger will address the UN General Assembly and meet with UN Secretary General (SG), António Guterres and his personal representative in the border controversy, Dag Halvor Nylander, on September 25.

According to Greenidge, it is expected that Granger will touch on the controversy in his address also.

“The president’s speech will no doubt make reference [to] Guyana’s wish to ensure that the SG adheres to the commitment that he made to facilitate dialogue between the parties, and that by the end of 2017, if there was no resolution or significant progress to a resolution, that the matter would be referred to the ICJ [International Court of Justice],” Greenidge informed.

In addition, the Secretary General and President Granger are due to meet and in the course of that meeting Greenidge said that “one can expect that they will be discussing progress in relation to the work of their personal representative and the likely outcome of that exercise.”

He also explained that the terms of agreement for the process do not make provision for either party to be “addressing the process and outcome per se at this stage” and as a result he said Guyana will not comment on that aspect.

Before demitting office last year, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon had outlined in his decision that “if by the end of 2017, the Secretary General concludes that significant progress has not been made toward 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 Guyana and Venezuela “jointly request that he refrain from doing so.”

Guyana has committed its full support to giving this final year of the “Good Offices” process the best opportunity of success. Guyana has also been arguing for a juridical settlement, while noting that years of the Good Offices process has yielded no result and has encouraged Venezuelan aggression.

Greenidge noted that Guyana has never had any difficulty speaking to Venezuela to resolve the controversy and will continue to be accommodating in that vein. However, he said the former SG set a process in train calling for a last effort of dialogue that was supposed to take one year. “We are approaching two years since that request was made and that effort was launched,” he stressed. “There is, in the SG’s communication to the two countries, a process and the process has timeliness and we are embracing it. Notwithstanding some of the concerns of the SG, we embraced the process on the grounds that it will be implemented in good faith by all parties including the United Nations. I don’t think we need to say more than that,” he added.

Guyana has been pressing for a juridical settlement of the controversy, which has been characterised by acts of aggression from Caracas that have thwarted development projects here. Guyana had also argued that the UN Good Offices process has run for more than two decades without delivering tangible results.

Relations with Venezuela deteriorated sharply in 2015, when Caracas issued a maritime decree intended to claim areas where US Company ExxonMobil had just earlier made a huge oil find.

This resulted in Guyana leading a diplomatic offensive against Caracas in the region for the withdrawal of the maritime decree. Caracas later amended the decree but it remained unacceptable to Guyana.

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