Statement by the Honourable Carl B. Greenidge, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs

December 20, 2018

The main event of interest as 2018 broke was the discussion with the Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General intended to be a last effort to resolve the controversy arising from Venezuela’s contention that the 1899 Treaty is null and void. Happily, we can say that the matter has progressed not so much because it is shortly to be concluded but because it has been set on a path that points to a conclusion within a reasonable time. Until the referral of the matter to the International Court of Justice, we had been placed in a cul de sac by our neighbour, with nowhere to turn.  We are pleased with the decision of the United Nations Secretary-General and because we expect the rule of law to prevail notwithstanding the intransigence of our neighbour to the West.

As it happens, Venezuela seems to be rearing its head once again as the year draws to a close but that is now a different matter. In the period in between, much has been achieved by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Staying with our neighbours to the South, Guyana has continued to deepen cooperation with the Federative Republic of Brasil. And, fast on the heels of the successful drilling of wells to make available potable water to eight communities in the Rupununi, Ambassador George Talbot signed on my behalf last week the Investment Agreement which has been under consideration for some time. We also propose to attend the inauguration of President Bolsonaro on Tuesday 1 January next year.

To the East, the Guyana-Suriname Border Commission met as planned twice this year with the last meeting being held in Paramaribo. Unfortunately, a date has yet to be set for the summit requested by President Bouterse.

The Ministry has worked with many other Ministries of the Government to prosecute national goals. I take this opportunity to mention the Third African Diaspora Meeting on Promoting Air Links between African States and the Caribbean, the Air Services Agreement we signed with Singapore in October and the agreement on training we organised with bilateral and international agencies in various areas including in human trafficking, health, river management, Green Oceans, ICT [information and communications technology], and weapons to name a few.

We have negotiated Visa Exemption Agreements which will make it easier for Guyanese to travel to other countries for business and as tourists and for us to pursue investment goals and opportunities. We also signed a Regional Agreement on Public Participation & Justice inter alia.

Within the framework of Memorandums of  Understanding (MOUs), we are in the process of deepening our collaboration with several states. As I have indicated before this instrument is one we commonly employed over the years to this end. It is not a peculiarity of our relations with China. Neither does it preclude other cooperation activities. Thus in the case of China, we can report significant progress outside of the Belt and Road Initiative. MOUs were signed with several states including India, Romania, Austria, two with  Brasil and another with India to establish a Centre of Excellence in ICT in Guyana. A Cultural Exchange Agreement to be implemented over the years 2018-21.

Only last week inbetween sessions of the Budget Debate we received a senior Mission from the People’s Republic of China which was undertaking technical work concerning the downstream needs of the new petroleum and gas sector.

In the mad rush to condemn ExxonMobil the local Press has successfully diverted attention from the fact that the exploitation of the reserves on our offshore shelf, the Stabroek Block is being undertaken by CNOOC [China National Offshore Oil Corporation] a Chinese firm and NEX along with ExxonMobil.

Our work in 2018 and increasingly in 2019 will encompass this sector which holds so much opportunity for the Guyanese and Caribbean people.

As a reflection of growing confidence in the prospects of Guyana, several states have shown an interest in establishing Embassies in Guyana. We for our part are exploring similar steps in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and on the African continent.

We have participated in successful UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] session, Commonwealth and CARICOM [Caribbean Community] Summits during the course of the year.

Through its Mission in Geneva, Switzerland, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sought to seek assistance in strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Finance to evaluate budgeting and planning decisions through a Green Economy lens. The Ministry intervened with the UNEP [United Nations Environment Programme] in early 2017 to this end and the latter undertook the modeling work. I am pleased to inform you that we have received an are examining the Guyana Green Economy Modeling Study – Synthesis report. 

In early 2018, the Geneva office initiated discussions with the World Health Organization (WHO) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the desirability of the development of a “public health programme designed to reduce cancer incidence and mortality and improve quality of life of cancer patients”. The report of the WHO/IAEA team which spent the week of December 3 to 7th in Guyana producing a baseline study and recommendations for the way forward to effective cancer control interventions and investments, is to follow in the new year.

In response to engaging with Nestlé at their Headquarters in Switzerland, a mission of three Nestlé professionals was sent to Guyana. All indications point to a concrete national private sector, Government and international private sector collaboration being launched in 2019. We look forward to this.

Following the accreditation of our Ambassador to Finland, the latter’s Ministry of Education, and our Geneva mission have been in discussion about possible collaboration in education. A brief report on findings with some ideas will be shared with the Ministry of Education.

The visit of the President of the Human Rights Council to Guyana and Guyana’s hosting of the workshop and events celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights were a huge success.

In the very important area of intellectual property rights, there is to be an important World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) programme of support for Guyana in 2019. This includes a National Intellectual Property Strategy (NIPS) preparation of which will take approximately six months. The NIPS will provide a blueprint on how to move forward at the national level on intellectual property matters.

On the vexing question of copyright, WIPO has completed its review of Guyana’s draft copyright legislation and is proposing to review our Industrial Property legislation. WIPO will continue to work with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs (MOIPA) on Geographic Indications (GIs) and Traditional Knowledge. I should add that at the regional level WIPO is also assisting CARICOM to develop a Regional System for IP Registration, in keeping with Article 66 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas which provides for “the establishment of a regional administration for intellectual property rights except copyright”. Patent protection is available in all member states of CARICOM.  However, to obtain protection for a single invention across the whole of the Community, applicants are required to satisfy the law and regulations of fourteen different countries.  In this regard, WIPO has submitted a Draft Convention which is being considered by the COTED.

FSI seminar series:

The Foreign Service Insitute (FSI) is expected to launch a seminar series involving video conference presentations in 2019.

Work at the UN:

The main role of that Mission is to interface and participate in United Nations debates on emerging matters and especially to represent our interests as a small state. We have strengthened that office and will try to further reinforce it with skills at the legal, various technical and economic level.

2018/9 Geneva Mission Programme

  1. The work for the Ministry of Finance can be described as strengthening capacity to evaluate budgeting and planning decisions through a Green Economy lens. The modelling work by UNEP to date results from a direct intervention with them in early 2017.
  2. In early 2018, we initiated discussions with WHO and IAEA on the development of a national cancer control programme.  This is defined as a “public health programme designed to reduce cancer incidence and mortality and improve the quality of life of cancer patients. The team from WHO/IAEA has just spent a week in Guyana from December 3 to 7th and will produce a baseline study and recommendations for the way forward to effective cancer control interventions and investments.
  3. One of our interventions to assist the Ministry of Agriculture’s diversification efforts has been in the area of milk industry revitalization and expansion. After engaging with Nestlé at their Headquarters in Switzerland a mission of three Nestle professionals was sent to Guyana. All indications point to a concrete national private sector, Government and international private sector collaboration being launched in 2019
  4. After being accredited to Finland, the Ministry of Education, GOG and the Finnish Ministry of Education our Geneva mission prepared a brief report on findings with some ideas on how the two agencies might collaborate.
  5. Geneva arranged to have the President of the Human Rights Council visit Guyana. As a result, Guyana agreed to host the workshop and events celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. All the feedback we have received from the Workshop for SIDS participation in Human Rights Geneva activities was that it was a huge success from all standpoints.

Best regards.

 

Appendix to Vice President Greenidge’s Press Statement

I draw your attention to the 1968 Treaty of Tlatelolco – Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean of which Guyana is a signatory). This Treaty was seen as making Latin America and the Caribbean a Zone of Peace.

This has brought to mind the 1980s song by “Sting” – lyrics provided below:

Artist

Composer

Written by Sting (& Sergei Prokofiev!)

Lyrics

Russians

In Europe and America there’s a growing feeling of hysteria

Conditioned to respond to all the threats

In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets

Mister Krushchev said, ‘We will bury you’

I don’t subscribe to this point of view

It’d be such an ignorant thing to do

If the Russians love their children too

 

How can I save my little boy  From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?

There is no monopoly on common sense

On either side of the political fence

We share the same biology

Regardless of ideology

Believe me when I say to you

I hope the Russians love their children too

 

There is no historical precedent to put

Words in the mouth of the president

There’s no such thing as a winnable war

It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore

Mister Reagan says ‘We will protect you’

I don’t subscribe to this point of view

Believe me when I say to you

I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology

Regardless of ideology

What might save us, me and you

Is if the Russians love their children too

https://www.songfacts.com/facts/sting/russians

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