Tuesday, 22 May 2012

French Guyana's military exercises in Suriname

French Guyana - a department of France that borders Suriname - has held regular military exercises on Surinamese territory. According to the French military attaché, Thierry Lopez, the facilities in Suriname are more appropriate than in French Guyana because of the extensive savannahs and sand in which there is a smaller risk of bullet ricocheting. A French naval ship has also visited Suriname which the French Embassy in Paramaribo claims demonstrates the good relations between France and Suriname.

Although the French government has, diplomatically, criticised the controversial Amnesty Law, it is, without saying so publicly, unhappy with the fierce attitude of the Netherlands in this matter. France has long striven for a very good relationship with the neighbouring country. The Maroni River which divides the two countries is about 300 km long and is hard to monitor. In the 1980s, the border between the two countries was an important scene in the civil war.

Many former Surinamese refugees still live in French Guyana. There is substantial smuggling and criminality in the area which France wants to keep as peaceful as possible. There is regular consultation between the authorities in the border towns of Albina (Suriname) and St. Laurent (French Guyana). After a fatal plane crash in May 2010, the French immediately sent helicopters for a search and rescue operation. Quad-bikes, confiscated by the French police from illegal Brazilian miners in French Guyana, have been donated to the police corps of Albina in the recent past.

For more news and expert analysis about Suriname, please see Suriname Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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