By Ray Chickrie
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — A French military delegation visited Guyana and Suriname from April 14 – 16, and a few agreements were signed reports claim.
France is seeking closer military cooperation with Guyana and Suriname. With shared borders, Suriname and Guyana emerge as new oil and gas frontiers, the French desires closer ties.
On Thursday, April 15, 2021, minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation of Guyana, Hugh Todd, met with his French counterpart, Antoine Joly, Major General Xavier Buisson, Senior Commander of the Armed Forces in French Guiana, and Brigadier General Thomas Lorne of the French Defense Procurement Agency during which among mutual areas of interest, they discussed the strengthening of military cooperation links between Guyana and France.
During the two-day visit, the delegation also met with president of Guyana, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, prime minister of Guyana Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, and vice-president Bharrat Jagdeo.
The delegation also included Lieutenant Colonel Philippe Lamouret, Defense Attaché; Captain Virginie Lestage, International Relations Division, Joint Armed Forces in French Guiana; and Valentin Aventino, Country Desk Officer for Suriname and Guyana with the Directorate-General for International Relations and Strategy.
The Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Chief of Staff Brigadier Godfrey Bess and French Non-Resident Ambassador to Guyana. Antoine Joly, signed a letter of intent which paves the way for enhanced cooperation between the GDF and the French military. The signing, which precedes a period of deliberations on various security issues, took place on Thursday, April 15, at the Officers’ Mess, at Base Camp Ayanganna. Also present for the signing were senior GDF officers and members of a French Military delegation, led by Air Vice-Marshal Xavier Buisson and French Director for Central and Eastern Europe and Latin America, Brigadier General Thomas Lorne.
The French Armed Forces of French Guiana are set to participate in Exercise Tradewinds which is scheduled to be hosted by Guyana in June.
Prior to Guyana, the French military delegation visited Suriname and met with president Chandrikapersad Santokhi, defense minister Krishna Koemarie Mathoera and Army Commander Robert Kartodikromo.
According to minister Mathoera, “the visit of the French marks the long cooperation that Suriname has with French Guiana and France. This cooperation includes joint patrols on the Marowijne River, training, information sharing and support with equipment from French Guiana and France.”
Her ministry said in a statement that “Suriname and French Guiana share a border river and that there is frequent travel by citizens of the two countries. Cooperation is also very important because the neighbouring countries not only share a river as a border. France and Suriname work together to prevent illicit activities, and protect flora, fauna of each other’s natural resources and territorial waters.”
In Suriname, “an agreement was signed between Maj. Gen. Xavier Buisson and Commander Kartodikromo. This is technical cooperation at operational level and will be further elaborated in concrete projects and actions. It is intended that two teams from both parties will consult with each other. Suriname can submit project proposals, and the French are willing to support them.”