For peace sake
Stuart wants end to border dispute
As the squabbling between Venezuela and Guyana continues over maritime boundaries, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) chairman, today called on the two South American neighbours to resolve the dispute for the sake of regional peace and stability.
Stuart made the call today during a meeting with visiting Venezuelan Vice President Jorge Arreaza who is on a tour of the region to tell Caracas’ side of the story of the latest flare-up in the territorial dispute which dates back more than 100 years when Guyana was still a British colony.
The Prime Minister emphasized the need for the maintenance of peace and stability as the basis for enhancing regional cooperation and the development of both Guyana and Venezuela. He described Arreaza’s visit to the region as “a tangible demonstration of Venezuela’s commitment to those ideals”.
Stuart reaffirmed Barbados’ and CARICOM’s support for the integrity of Guyana’s territory and maritime space, as well as that of all CARICOM states. He also stated that Barbados stood by Guyana as it sought the best means to address the issue.
“We are committed to assisting Venezuela and Guyana in this dispute, preferring at all times a peaceful solution. But as of now, having regard to the fact that there was an arbitral award in 1899 and having regard to the fact that the Geneva Agreement of 1966 has not yielded the kind of result that either Venezuela or Guyana expected, CARICOM’s formal position has to be a commitment to the territorial integrity of Guyana,” said Stuart.
So far, the president of Guyana David Granger has sought the support of a number of countries, organizations and groupings, including the United Nations and CARIFORUM, to help resolve the border dispute.
Granger has contended that the territorial dispute with Caracas was a threat to Georgetown’s very survival, adding that if not quickly and peacefully resolved it could lead to a deterioration of “the security situation in the entire
Caribbean and on the northern tier of the South American continent”.
Following a recent offshore oil find, Caracas has claimed waters off the Essequibo region that would include the oil find. That region straddles the two countries.
Acknowledging that both countries had been trying to pursue a peaceful settlement for many years, Stuart said the time had come for the issue to end.
“We cannot contemplate such an end if we do not have a mechanism in place, for in the event the peaceful solution we prefer does not happen, an alternative mechanism can be sprung into action that can settle the matter by juridical means,” said Stuart.
Acknowledging that Venezuela had issued a new decree, Presidential Decree No 1859 of July 6, 2015, which had replaced Decree 1787, Stuart informed Arreaza that it was being studied by CARICOM experts.
Emphasizing the importance of the relationship between Barbados and Venezuela, Stuart welcomed Venezuela’s efforts at communication aimed at maintaining the deep bonds of friendship, collaboration and partnership between Caracas and CARICOM.