Venezuela says it is surprised at the move by Guyana to apply to the United Nations for an extension of its continental shelf.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Venezuela said that while Guyana's request does not prejudge the limits between the two countries, Caracas nonetheless "manifests its concern upon realising that the government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana did not inform it beforehand of this action in spite of existing fluid mechanisms of communication."
Guyana is seeking to expand its continental shelf 150 nautical miles out under the new rules of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea from the former standard of a 200-nautical mile outer limit of the existing exclusive economic zones.
The process "relates exclusively to the resolution of the controversy that has arisen from the Venezuelan contention that the Arbitral Award of October 3, 1899 that definitively delimited the land boundary between Guyana and Venezuela is null and void," the Foreign Ministry said.
Guyana said it had, nonetheless, sent a diplomatic note on May 13, 2009 to the Venezuelan embassy in Georgetown with a copy of the preliminary information and data which Guyana submitted to the UN Secretary General.
The Bharrat Jagdeo government said the document constitutes the executive summary of Guyana's full submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).
Caracas said it received official notification of Guyana's presentation to CLCS on September 7.
Venezuela is not a member of the CLCS because it did not sign the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
"The Bolivarian government, by acting responsibly, has proceeded to evaluate this irregular situation in order to respond correctly in the light of international law, and it is taking the necessary actions to preserve its right on the projection of its seafront," said the Chávez administration.
"The government of Venezuela reiterates that this presentation does not prejudice matters relating to the establishment of maritime borders between Venezuela and Guyana, and is concerned since it ascertains that the government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana did not previously inform of this action, although fluid communication mechanisms, like the Good Officer of the Office of the UN Secretary General or the permanent bilateral dialogue the authorities of both countries keep at the highest level, exist."
Venezuela said from the inception, it has developed a foreign policy based on defending the sacred interests of the country, while it has strengthened the friendship and solidarity with the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, with special emphasis on Guyana, with which there is a territorial dispute.
"President Hugo Chávez has implemented a correct policy of peace, sovereignty and respect for international law towards Guyana that contrasts with the old warmongering and threatening attitudes of the Venezuelan bourgeoisie, whose only aim was to harass the progressive governments of this fraternal republic according to the intentions of imperial powers."
Caracas said it was also concerned about the "campaign of intrigue", saying it seeks to manipulate the Venezuelan people by misinforming about a sensitive issue.
"This bourgeoisie subjected to the orders of Washington and funded with money from the empire cannot claim to stand as patriots and defenders of the Venezuelan sovereignty," said the Caracas statement.
"The government of President Hugo Chávez expresses its utmost willingness to build constructive and respectful relations with Guyana, and ratifies that it will continue to defend the vital interests of the country in the firmest way through the internationally established dialogue mechanisms."
The territory dispute between the countries dates back to the 1800s. The land, called the Guyana Essequibo, covers 53,000 square miles between the Essequibo River in Guyana and the present border with eastern Venezuela.