Venezuela border controversyThe Government of Guyana (GoG) has officially sounded its strong condemnation of recent statements made by the neighbouring Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (BRV) in regard to Guyana exploiting its natural resources located offshore the Essequibo.In regard to a resolution promulgated on Wednesday by the Energy and Petroleum Commission of Venezuela, calling for Guyana to immediately cease ongoing offshore oil exploration and exploitation activities in the Stabroek concession block well, the Government of Guyana has noted that that Spanish-speaking nation has not even adopted or endorsed the resolution.The Foreign Affairs Ministry, noting on Friday that as far as Guyana is aware, the Government of Venezuela has neither adopted nor otherwise endorsed the resolution, had this to say: “The inflammatory resolution contains serious factual and legal errors. First, it suggests erroneously that the offshore activities in Guyanese waters have “recently” commenced, whereas the Stabroek license was awarded in 1999 and exploration commenced the following year, in 2000, 17 years ago.”The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s release has also said that the resolution suggests, erroneously, that Guyana is prohibited from developing its resources in this area because of Article V of the Geneva Agreement of 1966, but nothing whatsoever in the terms of that provision indicates that the parties cannot exercise jurisdiction over their sovereign territories. “Otherwise, it would mean that for the past fifty years, Guyana had no right to develop 70% of its territory, and the same applies to Venezuela’s development of the Orinoco region and adjacent maritime area which, like the Essequibo, was the subject of the 1899 Arbitral Award. Needless to say, such an argument is manifestly absurd”, the release argues.The release further states that Venezuela’s political posturing comes at an unfortunate time – when the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General has appointed Ambassador Dag Nylander as his Personal Representative to provide Guyana and Venezuela a final opportunity to resort to the Good Offices process, in order to resolve the controversy arising from Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 Arbitral Award delimiting the land boundary between Guyana and Venezuela is “null and void”.The release reminded that the parties have until the end of 2017 to make significant progress in arriving at a final resolution of the controversy; failing which, the Secretary-General will refer the matter to the International Court of Justice.The release has said that Guyana is fully committed to the search for a full and final resolution of the controversy under the Good Offices process in the limited time that remains. “Such deliberate provocations and absurd demands: that Guyana halt all development activities, especially when, for over fifty years, Venezuela has intimidated Guyana and obstructed a resolution of the controversy in accordance with international law, only serve to undermine this final opportunity for the parties to once and for all bring an end to this matter by agreement; failing which, adjudication will be the only remaining means of settlement.”The release declares that Guyana remains committed to friendly and neighbourly relations with the Government and people of Venezuela, but will categorically refuse to surrender any of the sovereign rights to which it is entitled under international law, “not least in this, the fifty-first anniversary of its independence from colonial rule, as a new period of prosperity awaits its people”.