One of Guyana’s foreign policy goals is expanding the relationship with nearby French Guiana, a fact shared by President Dr Irfaan Ali while meeting British Lord Zac Goldsmith, during his official visit to Guyana.
Lord Goldsmith is the Minister of State for Overseas Territories, Commonwealth, Energy, Climate and Environment of the United Kingdom. On Friday, President Ali hosted a dinner in his honour.
After dinner, the Head of State presented a painting by renowned Guyanese artist Dillon Craig, to the visiting dignitary. However, during the course of their meeting, in responding to a question from Lord Goldsmith, President Ali described the relationship with French Guiana as an excellent one they are intent on expanding.
“There’s a good relationship. We’re all part of the Guiana Shield. So… we’re now trying to expand that relationship,” President Ali informed the Minister of State during his visit at State House.
Lord Goldsmith has had a busy visit, travelling to Annai, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) only days ago. During that visit, where he was accompanied by Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat, Lord Goldsmith had said that the primary aim of his visit was to seek ways in which they can strengthen the relationship between Guyana and the UK.
Lord Goldsmith also did a recent handover of Information Technology (IT) equipment at the Guyana Forestry Commission, which will support the commission’s work as required under the European Union – Guyana Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade/Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT/VPA).
“You don’t need us to succeed, I can see that… But if we can help in any way… we are at your service and we are here to partner up as much as possible. You are already world leaders; you have unlocked the secret of protecting nature while at the same time taking care of the interest of the people who depend most directly on that nature,” the Minister of State had said during the handover.
There has been work within the Guiana Shield to improve collaboration, such as the work done during the first edition of the Guiana Shield Strategic Dialogue, where Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname came together to discuss the development of a common security masterplan back in 2021.
During a trilateral engagement in Cayenne, French Guiana, where Guyana was represented by Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, the discussion centred on joint security threats and challenges facing the countries. The dialogue also underscored the importance of shared respective understanding of the regional strategic defence and security environment.
The issues of how the countries can collaborate and structure their operational and technical cooperation in the fight against the security threats and other challenges facing the populations, territories, maritime space and interests were also discussed.
Within the framework of the Guiana Shield Strategic Dialogue on security and defence and to develop a common security masterplan, the various sides agreed to exchange views and work closely on technical and operational areas, including increased joined land, and sea patrol missions.
Additionally, it was agreed to strive for a global and coordinated approach against illicit trafficking and serious crimes, including drug trafficking, illegal gold mining, environmental crimes and irregular immigration with a focus on anticipation, threat assessment, prevention.
The third area that was agreed to was response and increasing joint attention to the environment and climate change, including security and defence impact on climate change and to help safeguard essential conditions for peace and sustainable development.