Diplomatic solution sought.
A Diplomatic offensive is underway by the Government of Guyana to have a vessel seized by the Venezuelan Navy along with its crew members released and returned to Guyana’s territorial waters. According to a statement from Director General of the Ministry of Foreign affairs Elisabeth Harper the incident which she described as unprecented in Guyana Venezuela relations occurred at around 4 yesterday afternoon. A vessel the RV Teknik Perdana which was conducting seismic research in Guyana’s waters was prevented by a Venezuelan Naval vessel Pc Yekuana, from carrying out its activity. The Director general said that the Perdana is contracted to Anadarko, accompany which has a prospecting licence to search for hydrocarbons in the Roraima block offshore Guyana. According to the release despite efforts by the crew to explain their activity the Naval crew insisted that the Guyanese vessel was in Venezuela’s Exclusive economic Zone, insisting too that they switch off their engines and shut down its seismic equipment. A series of orders followed ending with the vessel Teknik Perdana eventually sailing to the island of Margarita in Venezuela. The Guyana foreign Ministry is making clear that the The RV Teknik Perdana was in Guyana’s waters when the incident took place. In strongly condemning the actions by the Venezuelans the Guyana government says it is of the firm believe that the actions constitute a serious threat to the peace of this sub-region.
The Government of Guyana has expressed to the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela its grave concern about the incident involving the RV Teknik Perdana and has requested the immediate release of the vessel and its crew.
Guyana intends to employ all peaceful means to facilitate a prompt return to the status quo ante since neither the Venezuelan naval vessel, the agents of Venezuela, its Government nor any other State has the authority to exercise any action in Guyana’s territorial waters, its continental shelf or its exclusive economic zone without its express consent.
The actions by Venezuela is reminiscent of the actions of Suriname in the year 2000 when Suriname’s Gunboats evicted a CGX rig from the Corentyne River. Those actions eventually went to an Arbitral Tribunal of the UNLaw of the Sea commission and a decision was given in Guyana’s favour. Only recently Venezuelas new President Nicolas Madura had visited Guyana and had Committed Venezuela to the Good Officer process advanced by the UN as the way to settle any border issues. On August 31 also there was also an incident at eteringbang where Venezuelan Soldiers came into Guyana territory with their weapons saying they were escorting a group doing research
Guyana maintains that the application of the principles of international maritime delimitation will vindicate its position that the RV Teknik Perdana was well within its maritime boundary when it was illegally evicted by the Venezuelan naval vessel.
Commenting on the issue Opposition Leader David Granger also condemned the actions and said said the actions consitute a threat to international peace. Granger expressed unqualified support to the Government for a strong response by the Government of Guyana to safeguard Guyana’s territorial integrity.
One of Guyana’s foremost lawyers in the area of Maritime Disputes Dr Bartlon Scotland commented on the options Guyana has in a situation like this.
The GTUC also joined the APNU in condemning the actions which it believes was an act of aggression against the Guyanese people, and says it stands behind the Government in its quest for a peaceful solution in the matter .