Guyana denies Suriname airspace violation claim
Guyana Chronicle
April 21, 2004

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THE Guyana Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, yesterday dismissed as untrue, a report in the Surinamese media alleging that a Guyana Defence Force (GDF) aircraft over-flew and violated the airspace of that neighbouring country.

The Foreign Ministry, in a statement that strongly questioned the accuracy of the report in the Surinamese media, said: “The Government of Guyana wishes to state categorically that there was no such intrusion and that the helicopter in question was on a mission to Orealla and Siparuta, two Amerindian communities in Guyana’s territory.”

“The Government of Guyana is concerned that this false report might have been intended to harm relations between Guyana and Suriname at a time when both countries are committed to the process of maritime delimitation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the statement from the ministry added.

The Foreign Ministry also said that it is not in the interest of the Government of Guyana, as the party which initiated legal proceedings in order to achieve a resolution of the maritime boundary dispute with Suriname, to contravene its commitment to the peaceful settlement of disputes.

The Guyana Government officially notified the Suriname Government on February 24 last of its decision to request the intervention of the United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea based in Hamburg, Germany, to give a binding decision on the existing maritime dispute between the two Caribbean Community (CARICOM) neighbours.

Guyana submitted to Paramaribo a statement of claim outlining its case under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Guyana's initiative caps efforts by successive governments - beginning as far back as 1989 when President Desmond Hoyte paid a State visit to Suriname and met President Shankar to resolve differences between the countries over their offshore boundary.

Among the most recent were meetings of the Guyana/Suriname Joint National Border Sub-Commission in Georgetown and Paramaribo between May and October of 2002.

"But Suriname frustrated all efforts at agreement," President Bharrat Jagdeo lamented in an address to the nation in February, adding: "And this impasse isn't doing either Guyana or Suriname any good."

Guyana's legal team for these proceedings will be former Foreign Affairs Minister Sir Shridath Ramphal, Mr. Paul Reichler of the Washington Law Firm of Foley Hoag, and Dr. Payam Akhavan of Yale Law School.