Published On: Thu, Oct 2nd, 2014

Suriname and Netherlands to restore high level ties

SurinameNEW YORK, USA -- After years of absence of a Surinamese ambassador in the Netherlands, and a Dutch ambassador in Suriname, Paramaribo and the Hague will soon restore diplomatic relations at ambassadorial level.

Suriname avoided for many years appointing an ambassador to the Netherlands and at the same time delayed approving the appointment of a Dutch ambassador to the former Dutch colony.

Some two years ago, the foreign minister of Suriname, Winston Lackin, said, “We must not forget that The Hague publicly decided not to respect the choice of the Surinamese people and that of the National Assembly; you do not expect me to be in a hurry to appoint an ambassador there."

The announcement of the restoration of full diplomatic ties between the two countries took place in New York last week. The ministers of foreign affairs of Suriname and the Netherlands -- Lackin and Frans Timmermans respectively -- made the announcement after a bilateral meeting at the United Nations 69 General Assembly.

Paramaribo accused the Netherlands of meddling in its internal affairs, especially after the National Assembly of Suriname granted amnesty to the alleged killers of opponents of President Desi Bouterse 30 years ago.

In protest, the Netherlands withdrew its ambassador to Suriname and suspended all financial aid. As well, funds owed to Suriname as part of a decolonization package were put on hold.

Paramaribo then escalated ties with diverse regional groups such as UNASUR, CARICOM, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group. The Bouterse government placed emphasis on ties with Brazil, China, Turkey, India and South Africa.

The economy continues to grow and the country is financially healthy and has been attracting investments. Suriname has reached a per capita income of about US$10,000.

While full ties with the Netherlands will be restored, relationship between the two countries will remain uneasy but cordial; and at times could face challenges.

Bouterse remains popular in Suriname and could easily win the upcoming general election in 2015. The Netherlands will find this problematic.

By Ray Chickrie

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