Browne: Caricom will continue to work for peace

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne speaks during a post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, Port of Spain, on Thursday. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

FOREIGN and Caricom Affairs Minister Dr Amery Browne has said Caricom will do everything in its power to cool tensions arising from the Guyana-Venezuela border dispute and ensure the region remains a zone of peace.

Browne made this statement during a television interview on Tuesday, ahead of talks between Guyana President Dr Mohammed Irfaan Ali and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

The talks are being chaired by SVG Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, as the current chairman of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Browne said Gonsalves had outlined the objectives of this meeting.

“It is not a mediation. It is not a negotiation, a settlement hearing or anything along those lines.

“It is literally a conversation aimed at cooling the temperatures in these matters and ensuring that Caricom’s position of maintaining the Caribbean Sea as a zone of peace that would continue to be respected.”

He added, “Trinidad and Tobago has conducted itself very maturely and wisely in these matters. We have not jumped in. We have not become an antagonist in any way.”

TT, he said, has been working very closely with all its Caricom counterparts to find a solution and “speaking very discreetly with other parties as well, all aimed at ensuring a peaceful resolution of this controversy and these concerns.”

He added that TT, like Caricom, adheres firmly to the principle of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of sovereign states.

Should the meeting result in a cooling of tensions, Browne said this would be a successful outcome.

In the event this does not happen, he continued, it would be a matter of public record that genuine efforts were made to de-escalate the situation.

In those circumstances, Browne said, “Other measures would be deemed necessary.”

He did not say what those measures were.

But Browne said Caricom leaders will meet in caucus after the Ali-Maduro meeting to assess what happened and determine the way forward.

“It is impossible to separate the TT response and position from that of Caricom.”

Browne said Caricom will continue its efforts to ensure the Caribbean remains a zone of peace.

“The last thing any member state desires…is the outbreak of any form of conflict, the implications of which would be quite disastrous for the people of our region.”

Addressing the Guyana-Venezuela issue at a news conference on December 8, the Prime Minister said, “We are not going to be stoking any fires, but we also will ensure that we take the position to all our partners and neighbours that this region is better off and should always be a zone of peace.”

Dr Rowley added, “Our approach has been to follow certain fundamental principles so that we can preserve ourselves as an honest broker and also follow the principles which brought us and from which we have anchored ourselves since independence. Difficulties will arise, and difficulties will be dealt with.”