By Ray Chickrie
PARAMARIBO, Suriname — On the occasion of the 45 independence anniversary of the Republic of Suriname on November 25, the Dutch Foreign minister Stef Blok, Guyana’s, president Dr Mohammed Irfaan Ali, Brazil’s foreign minister Ernesto Araújo, Curacao prime minister Eugene Rhuggenaath, and high-level delegations from France and Ghana will travel to Paramaribo to commemorate this historic event and facilitate high-level meetings between these five countries in Paramaribo.
This year’s independence celebrations are significant amidst major oil and gas findings in both Suriname and Guyana with a major global focus.
President Irfaan Ali will arrive in Suriname on Monday evening and is expected to sign several key agreements with president Chan Santokhi. One of those will be an agreement to bridge the Corentyne River that separates the two countries. This will eventually connect the Guianas with the entire South American landmass.
According to the Star-News of Suriname, “a formal meeting will take place between Santokhi and Ali on Tuesday. The Guyanese president will also visit Staatsolie. Ali will be the only guest to address the National Assembly in an extraordinary public meeting on Wednesday.”
Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok will arrive in Suriname on Tuesday to reset ties and meet with regional leaders who will be in Paramaribo. It will be the first high-level visit of a Dutch official in over a decade.
Suriname, the only independent Dutch-speaking country in CARICOM has close ties with Holland. Suriname was part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands until 1975 when it became an independent nation. Now Holland is looking to reset relations that are mutually beneficial to both countries.
The Suriname foreign minister in October held a bilateral meeting in the Hague with Stef Blok.
“Good meeting today in the Hague with my Surinamese counterpart, Albert Ramdin, and the minister of finance, Armand Achaibersing. The new impulses in the relationship with Suriname are frequent contact. We talked about the broader cooperation between our countries,” Blok said.
The two countries recently exchanged ambassadors after a five-year cold tie during the Desire Bouterse government. However, Dutch investment in education, healthcare, capacity building, and tourists form a major backbone of the Suriname economy. Critics say “ Cuba, Russia, Serbia, Venezuela or Morocco ties” can’t provide this cushion.
Ambassador Henry MacDonald of Suriname in an invited comment said: “Even though the entire world still suffers from COVID-19 it is heartwarming and wonderful to experience that our best friends are making sincere efforts to commemorate Suriname’s 45th independence Day celebration with the government and the Surinamese people in Paramaribo.”
While both governments are moving steadfastly to formulate an enabling infrastructural framework for a bridge and a deepwater port for the benefit of present and future generations, discussions on territorial issues appear to be a challenging matter in the political arena in Paramaribo.