Guyana’s President, Dr. Iraan Ali, said on Thursday that the threat to the country’s territorial integrity and the protection of its oil and gas resources will require a united approach by all Guyanese, who must defend the country’s entitlements from its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The President was at the time delivering his inaugural address at the ceremonial opening of the 12th Parliament.
“We are at an unprecedented time in our nation’s history. We stand together on the cusp of what can be a new economic era of prosperity in which all will share now, and from which future generations will benefit,” the President told Guyana’s legislators.
He made it clear that this new economic era will not unfold without the collective effort of the Guyanese people.
“There has never been a greater moment when we, as Guyanese, need to stand as one to secure the benefits of our natural resources and to protect our sovereignty – the right to make decisions in our national interest – and our territorial integrity,” Mr. Ali stated.
These sentiments follow a series of recent events related to the border controversy with Venezuela, which recently escalated when Guyanese fishing vessels and their crews were detained by the Bolivarian Republic’s navy while operating in Guyana’s waters. This followed President Nicolas Maduro’s move to issue a new decree in January, claiming sovereignty over Guyana’s EEZ.
This was met with a collective international condemnation which later saw the release of the vessels and crews. The border controversy is currently engaging the attention of the International Court of Justice, which late last year ruled that it has jurisdiction to hear the case.
“In respect of our sovereignty – that right to make decisions in our national interest – while the prospect for wealth from oil and gas is now real, it could dissipate if we fail to take the necessary steps to ensure that Guyana’s interests and its rightful income are safeguarded,” Mr. Ali stated.
He noted that Guyana is now in uncharted territories as it deals with industry giants, and will need expert advice, based on sound knowledge and robust experience of the industry. Guidance will be needed in areas including operating agreements, concessions, laws, and prudent management of the oil and gas sector for the benefit of the people.
“But, above all else, we need every Guyanese, united as one, to stand in defence of our rights and entitlements. Guyana’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be the nation’s constant unified watch. In this patriotic duty, every Guyanese must stand up to be counted. Every political party, every trade union, every business organisation must stand up and be counted. This National Assembly must stand up and be counted,” the President charged.