T&T will not tolerate hostility from Bajans
Posted By: News In Response To: Flying Fish or Bajan Red Herring (Ayinde)
Date: 21, February 04, at 8:00 a.m.
In Response To: Flying Fish or Bajan Red Herring (Ayinde)
By RICHARD LORD, Trinidad Express
ANY DECISION by the Barbados Government to impose economic sanctions against Trinidad and Tobago would be an act of hostility, Foreign Affairs Minister Knowlson Gift said yesterday and he warned that this country would respond accordingly.
Gift said this in a strongly-worded address to the nation on Trinidad and Tobago/Barbados relations, which was broadcast on television and radio yesterday. The broadcast was delayed by two days because of a technical glitch, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said yesterday.
At a news conference last Saturday, Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur announced that, as a consequence of the unresolved fishing rights dispute, Barbados would add a range of imports from Trinidad and Tobago to a licensing regime.
Although a list of products was not made public in Barbados, local exporters have complained that Bridgetown has been giving their products the cold shoulder.
Gift in turn said yesterday: "We therefore view the introduction or imposition by the Government of Barbados of any punitive measures likely to injure the economy of Trinidad and Tobago as a hostile act and we will respond accordingly."
He added that the Trinidad and Tobago Government "hopes that it does not come to that".
Gift said "the recent erratic pronouncements and actions" by the authorities in Barbados "may have stemmed from economic problems in the Barbados economy."
He said Trinidad and Tobago's concerns were based on the following:
-Barbados's decision to abandon the bilateral process for a binding settlement by a third party without any prior notice, especially in the wake of a meeting between the two sides in Barbados last Monday which Prime Minister Patrick Manning attended.
-Barbados's decision to unilaterally suspend negotiations on February 16 after a commitment was given by its Foreign Minister on February 9 to resume the negotiations next week.
-Based on the existing law "anything between the 'median line' (between the two nations) falls indisputably within the jurisdiction of Trinidad and Tobago."
-While this country has submitted proposals for the delimitation of the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf in the Caribbean Shelf in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, Barbados has refused to do so.
-The Delimitation Treaty between this country and Venezuela does not prejudice the interests of Guyana and Barbados as is being claimed.
And Gift also slammed Barbados Attorney General Mia Mottley, saying she was attempting to incite Barbadian fishermen to break the laws of Trinidad and Tobago and warned that such action would not be tolerated by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
Gift described as "perplexing" Mottley's advice to Barbadian fishermen on Wednesday to go out and fish in T&T waters. "Interestingly, this statement appears to be a call to the fishermen of Barbados to violate Barbados law as well as the laws of Trinidad and Tobago. We will not tolerate this," he said.
Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados have been in a verbal war since last December, initially over the delay in reaching agreement on a new fishing agreement between the two countries.
However, a new issue has surfaced this week-the 1990 Delimitation Maritime Boundaries Treaty between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago which Barbados is claiming is disadvantageous to it.
Dealing specifically with the Maritime Delimitation Treaty, Gift said there have been 12 days of negotiations over five rounds between July 2000 and November 2003 in Barbados. During that period, he said, Barbados "has steadfastly declined to put its proposal for a maritime boundary on the table".
Gift also said the Barbados Government's notion that international law mandates (where there is no agreement) that the negotiations begin with the drawing of a median line between the two states, is false and "unacceptable".
And he maintained Trinidad and Tobago would not repudiate the 1990 Trinidad and Tobago-Venezuela Treaty on the Delimitation of Marine and Submarine Areas because "international law imbues boundary agreements with a special status" and "we have examined the grounds of objection and find them to be lacking in merit".
"It seems that the real focus of the Barbados Government goes way beyond any consideration of the conclusion of a fishing treaty," Gift said.
Gift said it was "truly amazing" that 14 years after the signing of the Treaty, Barbados Prime Minister Owen Arthur "can make the astonishing claim" that it "purports unilaterally to appropriate to Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago an enormous part of Barbados and Guyana's maritime territory, as well as one-third of Guyana's land territory."
He said the Trinidad and Tobago Government dismissed "completely and unequivocally", Barbados's claims to its historic fishing rights in Trinidad and Tobago's Exclusive Economic Zone.
Gift said this country was preparing to defend the interest of Trinidad and Tobago and prosecute this to the fullest before the United Nations.
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