“We will not bow to threats to our national security” – President Ali

President Dr Irfaan Ali during his Address to the Nation today

In light of Venezuela’s recent “acts of aggression”, the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Dr Irfaan Ali, has reiterated that Guyana will not bow to threats from its neighbor and will continue to pursue a final settlement of the an ongoing border dispute at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“We will not bow to threats to national security. We may be a small country but we are proud people. We may not have military strength but we have a moral and legal right. We choose to fight without anyone but we will resist threats from anyone, ”the Head of State asserted during a Address to the Nation today.

President Ali also drew attention to the widespread and continued support from the international community since the January 7 decree issued by President Nicolás Maduro renewing claims to Guyana’s maritime territory off the Essequibo Coast, and more recently the detention of the two fishing boats Guyanese and the 12 -member crews.

According to the Guyanese Leader, “Not only do we Guyanese consider our case to be right and just but also the international community. We are not alone. We have the international community behind us. ”

On this note, President Ali disclosed that he received a letter on Friday evening from the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, which reiterated that he had chosen the ICJ in January 2018 as a means of using it as the solution for Guyana border debate and Venezuela, as it was empowered to do by the treaty signed in Geneva in 1966 by all parties.

The President further noted that while the Secretary General acknowledged that the World Court was proceeding to adjudicate the merits of the case, he also offered his ‘Good Offices’ role to address other important bilateral issues that both could neighboring government wish to engage with them.

But according to President Ali, Guyana is “fully committed” to the ICJ process, which is coming up for a case management hearing on Feb. 15.

“We believe that international law and independent international lawyers of the highest quality, offer the most credible and definitive way to end Venezuelan strife. So, we will continue to follow that course, ”he said.

In the same breath, however, President Ali explained that Guyana is not opposed to engaging with its Spanish-speaking neighbor on bilateral issues in which both countries have bilateral interests. These include the growing number of Venezuelans seeking asylum in Guyana along with working together to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Guyanese Leader went on to insist that Guyana will only engage its neighbor if Venezuela refrains from its ongoing acts of aggression.

“Such discussions are welcome, especially if the UN Secretary-General wishes to play the role of ‘Good Officers’, [but] it will be necessary before a clear demonstration by Venezuela that it will refrain from any further acts of aggression against Guyana, starting with the release of the Guyanese fishermen and their ships, ”Ali posted.

The Head of State reiterated that Guyana is a peaceful nation and always chooses the path of international law to resolve issues. He added that the country will remain firmly on that path in the pursuit of justice for the country and its people.