Cooperation on security essential for the prosperity of Aruba, says PM

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WASHINGTON, USA — The prime minister of Aruba, Michiel Godfried Eman, said on Thursday at the thirty-third policy round table of the Organization of American States (OAS) that current conditions of prosperity in his country would not be possible without the security ties it shares with the Netherlands, the United States and other governments of the region.

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Michiel Godfried Eman, Prime Minister of Aruba. Photo: Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS

The Caribbean leader was the keynote speaker at the debate titled "Peace and Security: the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean; its geo-strategic importance in advancing security in the region," in which he was joined by the naval attaché and assistant defense attaché for the Netherlands in the United States, Jos Coumans; the OAS secretary for multidimensional security, Ambassador Adam Blackwell; and the chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board (IDB), Guy Thibault.

On the issue of security in the Caribbean, Eman said, "When you look at the peace and security in Aruba and the opportunity to prosper because of this security, you could as politicians take the credit for making these choices, but in reality if you look at the circumstances this credit should be given to the people of Aruba."

"If you look at what hinders international cooperation on security in other countries, the answer is the sense of autonomy and sovereignty that countries and peoples cling to," and that is why they don’t give their authorities the space necessary to enter into agreements that allow for greater cooperation on matters of security, he emphasized.

In the case of his country, he continued, "the people of Aruba have chosen to maintain relations with the Dutch Kingdom in order to have foreign affairs, defense, and legal security all arranged on a broader base in order to secure objectivity and effective enforcement to confront these world-scale and international threats."

In the case of other countries, he said, if the electorate is not willing to give its authorities "the necessary space" to enter into international agreements, it will be difficult to implement effective visions on security.

As examples of the cooperation that Aruba has developed with the Netherlands and other governments of the region, Eman mentioned the efforts against drug trafficking, a coast guard system based on cooperation with other countries, and collaboration with the United States Border Patrol.

"Our geographic location definitely gives us challenges to secure our borders," he asserted.

"Aruba is at the front of the South American coast, we know that is where many of the drugs come from, and we are between the markets in the upper north and the producers down south, and being in between we have the natural challenge to keep the territory safe and to keep other territories safe," he added.

For his part, Blackwell recalled that the relation between Aruba and the Netherlands "is of great interest to the OAS, since geographically the Caribbean island is part of our Hemisphere."

In this sense, he recalled that the hemispheric Organization "is building a multidimensional platform" on security, and mentioned some of the areas in which it is currently working on: customs and border control in the Caribbean, maritime and aviation security, money laundering, trafficking in people, firearms marking and tracing, prevention and combating human trafficking, and inter-American police training.

Coumans offered a presentation on the role played by the military and civilian forces of his country in strengthening security in Aruba and the Caribbean region.

In particular, he noted that among the principal tasks are the promotion of regional stability and security, support for civilian authorities, maritime security and maritime law enforcement, and he added that regional cooperation includes ties to the governments of the United States, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, Venezuela, and Suriname, among others.

Thibault, recalled that the subject of security is essential to guaranteeing progress among the pillars of development of nations, and advocated for the creation of a comprehensive approach that links the military forces of different countries.

In particular, he insisted on greater information and intelligence sharing, especially during crises; maintaining and deepening relations to ensure that the IADB is connected; confidence- and security-building measures among the countries; and improving preparation and capacity-building to enhance response in situations of emergency.

The OAS policy round table program, launched in 2007, seeks to enrich the discussion of the hemispheric agenda by bringing together political analysts and members of the diplomatic community to talk about the principal issues affecting the region.

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