By Ray Chickrie
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — Suriname is pushing its foreign policy frontier to include East Africa evident by Yldiz Pollack-Beighle becoming the first Surinamese foreign minister to visit Kenya. Pollack-Beighle was in Nairobi to attend the 9th African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Summit of Heads of State and government, which was renamed at the conclusion of the summit, the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). The meeting concluded on December 10.
Pollack-Beighle and Kenya’s foreign minister Monica Juma held a bilateral meeting in which several issues were discussed.
“Significantly we agreed to support each other in all multilateral forums. We also signed three instruments that will guide our cooperation including a visa waiver agreement to enable easy movement for people and business between our two countries,” Juma said on Twitter.
The three agreements signed include a framework agreement for friendship and cooperation; an agreement on visa waiver for holders of diplomatic and cooperation passports, “as well as national passports in use on official missions,” and an MOU to start a political consultation mechanism between the ministries of foreign affairs.
“Our discussions focused on a number of areas of mutual interest and environmental sustainability,” Juma added. “Foreign service development, people to people cooperation, trade and investment. We also reviewed the just concluded ACP Summit and discussed Suriname’s support for the implementation of the Nairobi Nguvu ya Pamoja Declaration (Nairobi Strength for Unity).”
Surinamese foreign minister commented: “With this visit, Suriname aims to give concrete effect to the bilateral relationship between the two countries, as well as with the countries of the African continent. The meeting comes as a result of the conversation between presidents Bouterse and Kenyatta on November 26.”
Suriname also plans to appoint a non-resident ambassador to Kenya, and “Kenya will also consider establishing an embassy in Suriname,” Pollack-Beighle said.
The two countries identified areas of cooperation to include the environment, trade and economy, food safety and triangle cooperation in the fields of agriculture, tourism, cultural, education and capacity strengthening, air and maritime connectivity, sport and exchange between the two peoples.
According to minister Pollack-Beighle, “cooperation will enable both countries to exchange their experiences and capacities in various areas and better exploitation of the South-South relationship can take place.”
The Kenyan minister highlighted the importance of solidarity in taking action on a multilateral level. Only recently, Suriname established diplomatic ties with Kenya. Moreover, Suriname has a “visa blockade” in African countries. While many Asian, European and Latin American countries don’t need a visa to visit Suriname, not one African country has a visa-free regime with Suriname.
Suriname has but a handful of diplomatic relations with African countries. Pollack-Beighle is looking to change this as Paramaribo moves it foreign policy frontier into Africa. Suriname recently opened an embassy in Accra, Ghana.
“Suriname and Kenya have recently entered into diplomatic relations on September 24, 2019, and will continue to use this relationship for the benefit of both peoples,” Pollack-Beighle said.
In June 2020, Kenya will host the first summit of African and Caribbean leaders in Nairobi on the eve of the next Commonwealth Summit which Rwanda will host.
“Furthermore, it has been emphasised by both administrators that efforts should not only be done to improve relations and contact between CARICOM and Africa but also within the ACP-EU relationship and the post-Cotonou trajectory. The ACP will have to take a stronger position,” Pollack-Beighle said.