BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – Caribbean leaders attending the just concluded 28th Inter-Sessional have given their unflinching and firm support for Belize and Guyana in their border disputes with Guatemala and Venezuela respectively.
The leaders present received an update on the most recent developments between Belize and Guatemala and noted that both nations have now completed their internal procedures required for the Special Agreement to Submit Guatemala’s Claim to the International Court of Justice of 2008, including its related Protocol of 2015, to enable these Agreements to come into force and that the two countries have exchanged notes in this respect.
“They expressed their hope that both countries can proceed with the required referendum as early as possible. Heads of Government noted, with regret, that the undertaking by both countries and the Organisation of American States (OAS), to engage in the design and development of a mechanism of co-operation for the Sarstoon River, remains outstanding and urged both countries and the OAS to redouble their efforts in this respect,” according to the communiqué issued at the end of the two-day meeting in Georgetown, Guyana’s capital.
The regional leaders expressed support for the continuous and critical role of the OAS in the process aimed at resolving the dispute arising from Guatemala’s claims on Belize and further called on the international community to continue supporting the OAS Office in the Adjacency Zone.
In relation to the Guyana –Venezuela dispute the Caribbean leaders received an update from the President of Guyana, His Excellency David Granger on the most recent developments on the controversy between the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the particular efforts of former United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, to find a way forward under the Geneva Agreement – as they had exhorted at their Meeting in July 2016. They joined President Granger in acknowledging these efforts.
“Heads of Government welcomed the decision taken by Mr. Ban Ki Moon before demitting Office and the resulting prospect of 2017 as a ‘final year’ of the ‘Good Offices Process’ of the Secretary-General, to be followed by a referral of the controversy to the International Court of Justice “if, by the end of 2017, the Secretary-General concludes that significant progress has not been made toward arriving at a full agreement for the solution of the controversy,” the communiqué stated.
Caribbean leaders also welcomed Guyana’s unqualified acceptance of the UN Secretary–General’s decision, and expressed the hope that its implementation in good faith by both parties will lead to the resolution of the controversy and the release of the parties and of the entire Caribbean Region from its unwanted implications.
Heads of Government also welcomed the proposal of Mr. Ban Ki Moon for ‘confidence building measures’ and President Granger’s assurance of Guyana’s willingness to explore all possibilities consistent with Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. To the extent that any such measures require regional support, Heads of Government pledged their best efforts to that end.
Heads of Government reiterated their firm support for the preservation of Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as their unflinching support for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of Belize.
No representative from the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis attended the Inter-Sessional – and there has been no official statement from the Office of Prime Minister Harris on his absence or that of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign affairs or the Ambassador to CARICOM.
The President of Guyana, His Excellency Brigadier (Ret’d) David Granger, chaired the proceedings.
Other members of the Conference in attendance were Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Honourable Gaston Browne; Prime Minister of Barbados, Rt. Honourable Freundel Stuart; Prime Minister of Dominica, Dr. the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit; Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Rt. Honourable Keith Mitchell; President of Haiti, His Excellency Jovenel Moise; Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves; and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley.
The Bahamas was represented by Honourable Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; Belize was represented by Honourable Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jamaica was represented by Senator, Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Saint Lucia was represented by Honourable Sarah Flood Beaubrun, Minister in charge of External Affairs; Suriname was represented by Honourable Yldiz Pollack-Beighle, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Associate Member in attendance was Turks and Caicos Islands, represented by Deputy Premier, Honourable Sean Astwood, Minister of Border Control and Labour.