Leader of the Opposition Brigadier David Granger has called on President Donald Ramotar to convene a border and national security committee. The committee should immediately consider the implications of, and Guyana’s response to, the unprecedented seizure of an unarmed, scientific survey vessel by the Venezuelan Bolivarian Navy (Armada Bolivariana de Venezuela). The vessel was conducting exploration in Guyana Exclusive Economic Zone with permission from the Government of Guyana on 10th October 2013.
Granger’s call is based on the June 2001 Report of the Border and National Security Committee of which he was co-Chairman. The Report recommended, inter alia, that the highest level of consultations for discussion and resolution of issues pertaining to border and national security issues should take place between the President and Leader of the Opposition. This level of engagement represents the core of the bi-partisan approach.
The Report recommended, also, that a Standing Committee of Parliament should be established to address, specifically, border and national security issues and that the engagements of minister(s) and shadow minister(s) responsible for border and national security matters should be formally established. The Report recommended, further, that the bi-partisan process should be supported by a technical/academic component in the form of an Institute of Border Studies, a strengthened Frontiers Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the review or consolidation of existing institutions where there is overlap and duplication in functions or which, simply, are ineffective.
Granger expressed astonishment at the ‘Joint Statement’ issued after the meeting between Guyana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Venezuela’s Minister for Foreign Relations, Elias Jaua Milano, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on Thursday 17th October. The ‘Joint Statement’ merely “agreed to explore mechanisms within the context of international law to address the issue of maritime delimitation.” It did not address the dangerous use, or threat of the use, of armed force by Venezuela against Guyana which is in contravention of Art. 2 (4) of the Charter of the United Nations.
Granger expressed the opinion, further, that it has become evident that there is need to strengthen the role of the National Assembly, the capability of the Government of Guyana and the capacity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to respond to challenges to this country’s territorial integrity.