Minister sees closer relations with neighbours
By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
December 21, 2002

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GUYANA's Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr. Rudy Insanally yesterday expressed optimism that the people of neighbouring Venezuela would be able to find solutions to the current problems plaguing the oil-rich South American country.

Speaking with reporters yesterday in Georgetown, Insanally noted that the situation in neighbouring Venezuela is rather tense at the moment. "We hope that the Venezuelan people would be able to find solutions to those problems and that our (bilateral) relations remain on an even kneel," Insanally said.

Insanally, who visited Venezuela in October this year, noted that his two-day official visit was very successful, and that while there, he had met with President Chavez, the Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Mr. Roy Chaderton and other officials and they were able to advance the bilateral process of cooperation and to expedite the Good-Officer Process.

He expressed optimism that the New Year would see further progress in the bilateral relations between the two countries. In this regard, he said the Foreign Minister of Venezuela is slated to visit Guyana in January. "We hope to be able to welcome him and to take the opportunity to at least explore the agenda for further bilateral cooperation," he said.

Insanally noted that his Ministry has made enormous progress in forging Guyana's bilateral relations with our neighbours - Venezuela, Brazil and Suriname.

"Unfortunately we have not made as much progress as we had anticipated, but some of these issues are not susceptible to any easy treatment and therefore we have to be very patient and we have to continue to engage our Surinamese counterparts so that hopefully we will see further movement in the new year," he said.

He noted too that the Guyana-Suriname Border Commissions are likely to meet towards the end of January, 2003 which would be the next major stage on the road to improving the relationship between the two countries.

The mechanism of the joint meetings between the National Border Commissions of the two countries was established in 1995 to facilitate a joint approach towards addressing the range of issues relating to the boundary dispute between them.

According to him, while progress was made over the past year in terms of the bilateral cooperation with its neighbour to the east, Suriname, that progress was below what was expected.

"Maybe we were too optimistic...the expectation was that following the discussions between President Bharrat Jagdeo and President Ronald Venetiaan, we would have advanced rapidly to implement the agreement to search for a way of cooperating in the exploration and exploitation of our natural resources (such as) the petroleum resources in the area of maritime overlap which would have benefited our two countries and our two peoples which are really in need of rapid economic development," Insanally said.

"'s just that I am saying that I thought we could have gone beyond where we are; but we are not discouraged, the dialogue is ongoing and I hope that in the new year we would be able to re-engage," he added.

"I would sincerely hope that we can regain the momentum that was established in the early part of the year and to follow through to an agreement that would benefit both our countries very shortly,” the Foreign Minister told an end-of-year news conference at the Foreign Service Institute, Takuba Lodge, Georgetown.

He noted that the bilateral relations with Brazil has been very good over the past year and he hopes that this cooperation can be even closer in the coming year. In this regard, he mentioned that several developments were made in the Guyana-Brazil relations including the progress being made with the Guyana/Brazil road, the Guyana-Brazil partial scope agreement, the increase in trade between the north-east of Brazil and Guyana and other cooperation in all sorts of areas including drug-trafficking and policing of the borders.

Insanally also placed on record the Ministry's deep appreciation for the media’s support over the past year. "I think without the coverage of our activities the public at large would be largely unaware of what we are trying to do or perhaps be less supportive of our foreign policy outreach. So I do want to thank you," he told reporters.

He also underscored the point that it has been "a very hectic year" for his Ministry and recalled that the Ministry's basic guidelines of operations have been the preservation of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and inter-dependence of Guyana, the promotion of economic and social development of the country, the promotion of consular services, the maintenance of friendly relations with the nations of the world, and ensuring that our interests are promoted within the international community.

"It has been a very, very busy and consuming year and I think the staff, despite its limitations has performed exceedingly well under the circumstances and I would like to take this public occasion to thank all my officers and staff of the Ministry," he said.

"I think this year ahead of us we will continue to face the same challenges (and) we in the Ministry are attempting to restructure our organisation to be able to address all the challenges that we are likely to face in the New Year. We have to take into account the circumstances in which we have to operate - scarce financial and human resources. From within that framework we will try to improve our working capacity, to fill some critical vacancies and to really try to provide greater training to our officers," he stated.

He also noted that the Ministry is currently in the process of recruitment.

"We will also be trying to enter the computer age even further with the development of information and telecommunications (and) as such I hope that the current plans to computerise the Ministry would be completed by early next year with the assistance of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) to modernise our outreach in terms of our dealings with the international community," he added.

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