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Government not happy with statement from Suriname Ambassador

The Government of Guyana has called it “unacceptable” the claim by the Surinamese Ambassador here that the seizure of a Guyanese vessel on the Corentyne River was not an act of aggression. 


Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon said that there is nothing to suggest otherwise than the claim of Guyana that the October 14 seizure was an act of provocation, and one of a series of such acts over time.


Luncheon noted Suriname’s call for the Border Commission to look at the issue – the same Border Commission, he said, that was unable to pronounce on the maritime border dispute, which Guyana took to the United Nation’s International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, and won. The Border Commission has not met in the past five years, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett said, and Suriname bears responsibility for why that is so.


For Guyana, the Foreign Affairs Minister said, resolving the issue is of grave economic concern, as the river is used to move sugar, a major export crop, to Georgetown.


The Minister said the timing of Suriname in its latest act of provocation is interesting, given that this country is about to commission the Skeldon Sugar Modernisation Plant, on which rests the survival of the local sugar industry and thousands of Guyanese who depend on it for their livelihood.


 In a letter to the press, The Foreign Affairs Minister quoted a 1799 agreement between the governors of Berbice and Suriname, in which the governors sought to declare the rights of the respective colonies. That agreement did not assign Suriname ownership of the Corentyne River.


Guyana’s Foreign Minister pointed out that in the absence of an agreement between the two countries on the USE of the river, Suriname cannot implement regulations on how it is used.

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