40 years on, deal over maritime borders is signed with cuba - 4 October 2011
04 October 2011
Published On:Tuesday, October 04, 2011
By CELESTE NIXON
Tribune Staff Reporter
AFTER almost 40 years of negotiations, the Bahamas and
neighbouring Cuba have signed an agreement outlining the country's
respective territories and boundaries.
During a press conference held yesterday at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs at the Goodman's Bay Corporate Centre the Bahamas
signed an agreement delimiting the maritime spaces between the
Bahamas and the Republic of Cuba clearly defining the maritime
boundaries between the two states.
Describing the signing ceremony as a "momentous occasion",
Foreign Affairs Minister Brent Symonette said the event is of great
national significance and has been a long time national goal since
the country's birth in 1973, "determining the very notion of where
the Bahamas begins and ends."
He said: "For any country, delimitation of its maritime
boundaries are an important undertaking as boundaries express in
concrete terms the space in which a country has the right to fully
exercise its sovereignty."
The delimitation of the maritime boundaries between the two
countries is required by the United Nations Convention on the Law
of the Sea (UNCLOS). The agreement also has "practical importance,"
because of the various interests in drilling for oil by both the
Bahamas and Cuba.
In December 2008, the Bahamas successfully established its
straight archipelago baselines through the UN.
The proclamation defines the boundaries that enclose all of the
islands inside the archipelago.
According to Mr Symonette in June 2009 technical talks between
the Bahamas and Cuba resumed, culminating on September 7 when
maritime delimitation boundaries between the bordering countries
were agreed upon and thereafter approved by Cabinet last
As one of his last events as Ambassador of the Republic of Cuba
to the Bahamas Luis Ponce Caraballo, who signed the agreement on
behalf of his country, said it was a great privilege to be a part
of the process and witness the event that was only made possible
through the successful collaboration and hard work of both
"The signing of this agreement," he said, "represents a great
moment of bilateral relations between the Bahamas and the Republic
of Cuba - reaffirming the goals of friendship and mutual respect"
between the countries.
Mr Caraballo said in accordance with the agreement the Bahamas
and Cuba agree to cooperate on areas of safety, scientific
research, preservation and protection of marine resources and other
areas of mutual interest.
Mr Symonette said the historic agreement defines what is
Bahamian territory and the exclusive national rights over the
"mineral and biological resources within its defined territory
allowing the country to exercise full national jurisdiction over
maritime spaces that include significant fisheries zones and
potentially significant areas for hydrocarbon exploration."
He added that the agreement also has implications on national
security and the effectiveness of law enforcement in the Bahamas'
maritime areas, including a management of marine resources.
The agreement will facilitate further cooperation between the
Bahamas and its neighbours "contributing to the maintenance of
peace, security and economic advancement" and in particular future
relations with Cuba, said Mr Symonette.
He said "indeed the agreement which the Bahamas and Cuba will
sign, besides defining the maritime boundaries also affirms the
bonds of friendship, mutual respect and understanding that exist
between the Bahamas and Cuba.
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