Guyana pleased with new US position regarding border dispute with Venezuela

Sunday, November 18, 2018

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (CMC) — Guyana has welcomed the new position by the United States regarding its border dispute with Venezuela, with Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greendige saying Washington's position “is an extremely important statement”.

Speaking at a farewell reception in honour of the outgoing United States ambassador to Guyana, Perry Holloway, on Friday night, the deputy chief of mission of the US Embassy here, Terry Steers-Gonzalez, said previously Washington had “simply supported the timely resolution of the Venezuelan-Guyana border controversy.

“In large measure because of Ambassador Holloway, the US government now calls on all parties to respect the 1899 arbitration decision,” Steers-Gonzalez said.

“While some might discount this seemingly simple addition, most of us present tonight understand how truly big it was, and is. Well done, Sir!” the diplomat added.

Steers-Gonzalez said it was while Holloway had been waiting in Washington for confirmation by the US Senate that a decision was taken to shift from “support the timely resolution” to calling on the two countries to “respect” the boundary award.

In January, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres referred the more than century-old border dispute between the two countries to the International Court of Justice after a year of talks failed to make progress.

Venezuela has been pressing a historic claim to Guyana's Essequibo region, which encompasses two thirds of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) country, since US oil giant Exxon Mobil discovered oil in disputed waters off its coast in 2015.

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon had appointed Dag Halvor Nylander of Norway to help broker a settlement by the end of 2017 with a strengthened mandate of mediation.

Guyana maintains that valid land borders were set in 1899 by an arbitration court decision, a decision Venezuela has never recognised.

Greenidge, who has welcomed the UN decision, in welcoming the new US position, told the ceremony on Friday night that Washington had also played a critical role in the 1897 treaty which spawned the 1899 arbitration award.

He described the statement as “extremely important…an extremely strong statement; one that we mention most heartily.

“The fact that the US is, at this time, prompted to call in both the parties that were signatories to the Paris Agreement of 1899 is of great significance. It is of special significance to Guyana because all that Guyana wants is the respect of a treaty that the two parties signed and which for all of sixty-three years both parties embraced,” said Greenidge.

“We are most delighted to receive that message, and also to receive the message through the instrumentality of Ambassador Perry Holloway,” Greenridge said, praising the outgoing US diplomat for his work here since his arrival in 2015.

In his address, Holloway said he took pride in the work his mission has accomplished across sectors in Guyana and reiterated the importance of Guyana's oil industry to the country's development.

“Many people still do not get how big this is. Come 2020, GDP (gross domestic product) will go up by 300 to 1,000 per cent. This is gigantic. You will be the richest country in the hemisphere and potentially the richest country in the world,” Ambassador Holloway said.

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