France, Guyana looking to increase cooperation in defence, other areas

…as joint working group to begin work this month

Efforts are continuing to forge closer ties between Guyana and Brazil, with the two countries establishing a Joint Working Group that will, among other things, seek to increase collaboration on defence, climate change and other areas.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Wednesday explained that President Dr. Irfaan Ali recently met with and held discussions with French Foreign and Europe Minister Stéphane Séjourné.

French Foreign and Europe Minister Stéphane Séjourné (left), shaking hands with President Dr Irfaan Ali

“Their discussions focused on a Joint Working Group on enhanced cooperation between the two countries. French Ambassador to Guyana and Suriname, Nicolas de Bouillane de Lacoste, advised Guyana’s Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud that France was ready to begin the work of the Joint Working Group in May,” the statement issued on Wednesday said.
Back in March, Guyana and France had signed a Communique in which they agreed to establish a Joint Working Group to strengthen collaboration in areas such as defence, climate change, food security, infrastructure, technology, and tourism.
The two countries also benefitted from further interactions when the third Guiana Shield Strategic Dialogue got underway in Georgetown on Monday. The Guiana Shield includes Suriname, French Guiana, Venezuela, parts of Colombia, Brazil and Guyana.
Following the signing of the communique, it had been announced that France will be opening an embassy in Guyana next year. According to the communique, given their desire to forge closer links, the two countries have decided to write a new chapter by France opening an embassy in Georgetown in 2025. France would be the first European Union (EU) country with this level of diplomatic representation in Guyana.
Additionally, France and Guyana have shared a commitment to democratic values and respect for international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.

Both countries are fully engaged in peacekeeping initiatives, the communique had said, adding that both countries are keen to strengthen cooperation to ensure the security and stability of the Guiana Shield, and combat organised crime in the region.
The two countries are also engaged in efforts to tackle climate-related issues and protect Amazonia, which is a priority for both countries, given their connection to the Amazon region.
It had been agreed at the meeting that a joint working group would be established to identify priorities to deepen cooperation in the areas of defense, climate change, food security, infrastructure, technology, and tourism.
As part of the ongoing security cooperation, Guyana announced the acquisition of maritime patrol assets from France. This is a further illustration of the commitment of the two sides to strengthen the bilateral relationship.
A letter of intent was subsequently signed earlier this month, with the aim of procuring the vessel, between the Guyana Government and the leading French aluminum shipbuilding company at the Finance Ministry on Lamaha Street, Georgetown.
Based on that letter, the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) will soon acquire an Ocean Patrol Vessel (OPV) 190 valued at EU$39.5 million from OCEA S. A. The inked agreement covered the manufacturing of the vessel, a comprehensive logistics package with spears, and five years of maintenance of the product.
In addition to manufacturing the OPV vessel, OCEA S.A is also actively exploring the possibility of establishing a modern maintenance yard in Georgetown. OCEA S.A. designs and manufactures maritime vessels, as well as patrol boats, passenger, cruise, environmental ships, motor yachts, tank ends, floating pontoons, multihulls, monohulls, and customised aluminum structures. The firm serves customers in France, French Guiana, French Polynesia, Suriname and Guyana.
In August 2023, officials of the French Development Agency (AFD) were in Guyana, and had exploratory discussions with Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, on opportunities for partnerships.
Only in February, the Guyanese and French militaries had agreed to conduct increased joint training, with more units of the local military slated to be engaged. At the time, GDF Colonel General Staff, Kenlloyd Roberts and a team of officers welcomed French Captain (Navy) Laurent Martin and his team for a courtesy call at Defence Headquarters, Base Camp Ayanganna, Thomas Lands, Georgetown. (G3)