The recently signed Argyle declaration prohibits Venezuela from interfering with Guyana’s administration of the Essequibo region, while a final resolution to the border controversy is sought at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
This position was affirmed by Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Hugh Todd, in response to concerns raised by the parliamentary Opposition during a sitting of the National Assembly on Tuesday.
Todd was questioned about the Argyle declaration that was declared by Presidents Dr Irfaan Ali of Guyana and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela. The declaration, signed on Thursday last in St Vincent and the Grenadines, sees Guyana and Venezuela agreeing to keep the peace, and not use threat or force amid the border controversy.
The parliamentary Opposition had been invited to these historic talks but had declined. However, in the parliamentary sitting, Opposition Members came armed with several questions about the joint declaration.
Opposition Member of Parliament Amanza Walton-Desir, who shadows the Foreign Affairs Ministry, questioned whether efforts were made to expressly prohibit Venezuela in the declaration from taking any action to seize control of Essequibo. Minister Todd, who was part of the delegation in St Vincent, replied in the affirmative and when pressed by the Opposition Member why this was not expressly stated in the declaration, he had this to say.
“If the Honourable Member would have read the declaration carefully, she would recognise that it is implicit in the declaration and it’s mutually beneficial to both parties, beginning also with the title of the declaration, which speaks to peace within the Region. So it was incorporated within the content and context of the declaration,” Todd said.
This answer did not satisfy the Opposition, with Member of Parliament Amanza Walton-Desir stressing that this should have been expressly stated. At this point, Minister Todd read sections of the declaration that prohibit Venezuela from taking any harmful actions against Guyana.
“The Honourable Member would recall that Venezuela agreed not to threaten or use force against Guyana, either directly or indirectly, in any circumstances including those consequential to any existing controversy between the two states,” Todd said, pointing to one of several instances that would bind Venezuela to keep the peace.
Venezuela has, in recent months, intensified its threats and aggression towards Guyana. But in the Argyle joint declaration, the two Heads of State had also agreed that any controversy between the two States would be resolved in accordance with international law, including the Geneva Agreement dated February 17, 1966.
The two countries have also committed to the pursuance of good neighbourliness, peaceful coexistence, and the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean. It was also agreed that both States would refrain, whether by words or deeds, from escalating any conflict or disagreement arising from any controversy.