Caracas (OrinocoTribune.com)—The foreign ministers of Venezuela and Guyana have met in the Itamaraty Palace, Brasília—the capital of Brazil—as part of the agreements reached at the end of last year, in which Guyanese President Irfaan Ali finally accepted Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s invitation for direct diplomatic talks to address the growing tensions over the disputed Essequibo territory. The Joint Commission of Foreign Ministers was created as a result of this agreement, known as the Argyle Declaration for Dialogue and Peace between Guyana and Venezuela.
The respective delegations were led by the ministers for foreign affairs for Guyana, Hugh Todd, and for Venezuela, Yván Gil, this Thursday, January 25. At the request of both parties, Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira accompanied the proceedings as the main interlocutor and facilitator, alongside Ambassador Gareth Bynoe of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the country currently holding the Presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). The meeting was also attended by the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the United Nations, Mr. Miroslav Jenca, representing the Secretary-General of the United Nations as an observer.
“In today’s talks, Venezuela and Guyana expressed their understanding of the commitment made in the “Argyle Declaration for Dialogue and Peace,” in particular the mandate given to the Joint Commission,” reported Itamaraty, the Brazilian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. “Guyana and Venezuela have presented their agenda proposals for the work of the Joint Commission, which will be discussed at a later stage in a new meeting that could also be convened in Brazil. They resolved, acknowledging their differences, to continue dialoguing based on the parameters established by the Argyle Declaration.”
“As we face the wars that are raging in different parts of the world, we have learned to value even more our Latin American and Caribbean culture of peaceful settlement of disputes, the basis of the community of interests that unites us, in a context free of geopolitical tensions of extra-regional origin,” added the Brazilian report.
In mid-December, the presidents of Venezuela and Guyana agreed in Argyle, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, to refrain from escalating any conflict or disagreement, threatening or using force, and to resolve the dispute per international law, including the Geneva Agreement of 1966 that Guyana’s authorities have tried to circumvent in recent years.
Tensions over the century-long dispute were raised after the Guyanese government gave concessions last year to oil corporations, including ExxonMobil, over territorial waters that are part of the Essequibo territory dispute that Venezuela claims as its own. Before that, Guyana—in violation of the 1966 Geneva Agreement—sent the case to the International Court of Justice, without the mutual consent defined in the Agreement and without exhausting the other UN peaceful resolution options also agreed by both countries in 1966.
Guyana and Venezuela, referred to as “they” in the text, declared the following in the Argyle Declaration of December last year:
1. They agreed that Guyana and Venezuela, directly or indirectly, will not threaten or use force against each other under any circumstances, including those arising from any dispute existing between both States.
2. They agreed that any dispute between the two States would be resolved following international law, including the Geneva Agreement of February 17, 1966.
3. They stressed their commitment to the search for good neighborliness, peaceful coexistence, and the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean.
4. They took note of Guyana’s assertion that it is committed to the process and procedures of the International Court of Justice for the resolution of the border dispute. They took note of Venezuela’s assertion of its lack of consent and lack of recognition of the International Court of Justice and its jurisdiction in the border dispute.
5. They agreed to continue dialogue on any other pending issues of mutual importance to the two countries.
6. They agreed that both states would refrain, whether in word or deed, from escalating any conflict or disagreement arising from any controversy between them. The two States will cooperate to avoid incidents on the ground that lead to tensions between them. In the event of an incident of this type, the two States will immediately communicate with each other, with the Caribbean Community (Caricom), with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and with the President of Brazil to contain it, reverse it and prevent it from happening again.
7. They agreed to immediately establish a joint commission of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and technicians of the two States to address mutually agreed issues. An update from this joint commission will be presented to the Presidents of Guyana and Venezuela within three months.
8. Both States agreed that Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves, Pro-Tempore President of CELAC, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, Acting President of Caricom, and President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil will continue to address the matter as interlocutors and the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, as Observer, with the permanent attendance of Presidents Irfaan Ali and Nicolás Maduro. For the avoidance of doubt, Prime Minister Gonsalves’ role will continue even after Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ceases to be the Pro-Tempore President of CELAC, within the framework of the CELAC Troika plus one; and Prime Minister Skerrit’s role will continue as a member of the Caricom Bureau.
9. Both states agreed to meet again in Brazil, in the next three months, or at another agreed time, to consider any matter with implications for the disputed territory, including the aforementioned update of the mixed commission.
10. We express our gratitude to Prime Ministers Gonsalves and Skerrit, to President Lula and his Personal Envoy Celso Amorim, to all other Caricom Prime Ministers present, to the officials of the Caricom Secretariat, to the CELAC Troika and the Head of the CELAC PTP Secretariat in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, His Excellency Dr. Douglas Slater, for their respective roles in the success of this meeting.
11. We express our gratitude to the government and people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for their kind facilitation and hospitality of this meeting.
Venezuelan foreign minister’s statements
Following the meeting, Minister Gil stated that this dialogue was “one more step in the consolidation of the diplomatic dialogue, the face-to-face dialogue between Guyana and Venezuela.” He explained that they arrived in Brasília as a clear result of “the Argyle Declaration, where both presidents, President Irfaan Ali and President Nicolás Maduro, committed to a series of points, 11 points, including the creation of this commission.”
He reported that various aspects of the Argyle Declaration had been discussed, like the disincorporation of third parties in the dilemma being of vital importance, such as the US Southern Command or the United Kingdom, “to eliminate any military presence in the area, especially these foreign powers.”
“We have been talking about the need to review the occupation of an undelimited maritime area,” added Minister Gil. He noted that the meeting is also the result of the overwhelming mandate given to the Venezuelan government by the people of Venezuela, as a result of the popular referendum on the Essequibo territory that took place on December 3 of last year. “Between now and March, we will surely have other meetings, preparing the ground for possible agreements in the immediate future,” the Venezuelan foreign minister concluded.
A few days after the Argyle presidential meeting, Guyana announced the arrival of the UK warship HMS Trent to the area, for alleged military drills. The Venezuelan government condemned the action as a military provocation and a breach of the Argyle Declaration, section 6, and sent more than 5,000 troops and numerous ships and planes to the eastern coast of the country to exercise sovereignty upon the arrival of the Royal Navy warship.
Special for Orinoco Tribune by staff
- orinocotribunehttps://orinocotribune.com/author/orinocotribune/February 29, 2024