Guyana denies overflight claims by Suriname media
Stabroek News
April 21, 2004

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has rejected Suriname media reports that a Guyana Defence Force aircraft flew over and violated Suriname's airspace.

A news item in the Suriname daily, De Ware Tijd, said that it was reported to Surinamese President Ronald Venetiaan that a "green and yellow helicopter allegedly stayed in the middle of the Corantijn [Corentyne] River and flew past the new army barracks at Apoera." Vene-tiaan has reportedly asked for details of the incident "so that he can determine where there is indeed reason enough to protest fiercely and send a stern warning to the Guyanese government."

In a release issued yesterday, the Foreign Ministry 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 Sipa-ruta, two Amerindian communities in Guyana's territory."

The release said the Guyana government "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 Conven-tion on the Law of the Sea.

"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."

Legal representatives of Guyana and Suriname are in the process of agreeing the three other members of the tribunal who, together with Professor Frank Smith, named by Guyana and Pro-fessor Hans Smit, named by Suriname, will adjudicate the maritime boundary dispute which Guyana referred to the United Nations for a legally binding decision under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.