“A close neighbour is better than a distant relative” – Suriname army commander

…as Suriname army delegation visits GDF

“I am very proud to say that this is the best opportunity for both of our nations, and I look forward to working together to enhance security in both our nations. We have the same issues threatening our nations and so our strong partnership will be effective in combating security threats.”

Members of the Guyana Defence Force welcome Colonel Henri Van Axeldongen (GDF photo)

These remarks were made by Commander of the Suriname Armed Forces, Colonel Henri Van Axeldongen, who is currently in Guyana with a delegation of the Suriname Armed Forces being hosted by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF).
The delegation visited the Defence Headquarters, Base Camp Ayanganna on Monday and was greeted by Chief of Staff, Brigadier Godfrey Bess and members of his leadership team
He said that the visit would be memorable, since it signalled an important step towards combating threats facing both countries. He further referenced the saying “a close neighbour is better than a distant relative”, pointing out that the two countries’ proximity provides a platform for embracing each other’s values and sharing information.

Chief of Staff Brigadier Godfrey Bess and Colonel Henri Van Axeldongen exchanging tokens (GDF photo)

Colonel Axeldongen stressed that he was eagerly anticipating enhanced cooperation with his Guyanese counterparts.
Brigadier Bess endorsed the views shared by Colonel Axeldongen. He noted that the delegation’s response to the invitation, as both countries continued to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, was a testament to the resilience and endurance of the Surinamese military.
During bilateral talks, he proposed several measures, including a Joint Intelligence Exchange between the two militaries, which he said was necessary as both countries emerge as players in the oil sector. Additionally, he proposed increased collaboration on surveillance on the border which the two countries share.
Brigadier Bess also put forward proposals for training exchange opportunities and invited the Suriname Armed Forces to subscribe to officer training with the GDF. He also extended the GDF’s support towards establishing a reserve component of the Suriname military.
This visit marks the first step of the two forces towards tackling common threats and embracing each other to ensure that the border they share and are vested to protect remains safe and secured.
The delegation was privy to a country and security concern brief highlighting the challenges faced and a series of proposals to enhance cooperation to address threats.
The visit from the Surinamese military delegation comes closely on the heels of an official State visit by Surinamese President Chandrikapersad Santokhi on August 17, 2021.