(CMC) – The Guyana government has defended its decision to pursue a course of “reasoned dialogue” with Venezuela after Caracas seized a US-operated oil exploration ship in local waters last month. The vessel and the 36-member crew were later released.
Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett told the National Assembly yesterday that Georgetown had opted to pursue dialogue with his neighbour to preserve the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
But she told legislators the government would “not compromise its principles nor sacrifice any of its national patrimony for ephemeral gains displayed on the altar of cooperation”.
Updating legislators on the development since the Malaysian-owned vessel was seized in mid-October, Rodrigues-Birkett said the relationship between the two countries after Guyana gained independence in 1966, had moved from those of bedeviled threats, acts of intimidation, seizure and attempt of seizure of territory by Venezuela to the cordial one enjoyed particularly under former Venezuelan president, the late Hugo Chavez.
She said President Nicolas Maduro, during his visit here last month, pledged to maintain the good relationship.
“Do we, in light of the October 10 incident, return to those darkest days of which I spoke of earlier or to those days of development uncertainties?.”
Venezuela’s foreign ministry had said the Teknik Perdana was “carrying out illegal activities” within an ocean border area claimed by Caracas. But Guyana described the incident as “unprecedented in Guyana-Venezuela relations” insisting that the seismic vessel was in Guyana’s waters “when this regrettable incident took place”.
“In fact, Guyana has been exercising jurisdiction over the said area ever since the extension of the jurisdiction of coastal States was established under international law. This was in fact made clearer after the passage of the Maritime Boundaries Act of 1977.”
The Foreign Minister told legislators that the Guyana government was always on-top of the RV Teknik Perdana issue.