Suriname and Turkish delegations meeting in Mugla, Turkey
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
MUGLA, Turkey – Suriname’s quest to develop strong economic ties with Turkey and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) following intense diplomacy since the Bouterse administration took office in 2010, now seems to be bearing fruit.
When Bouterse came to office, ties with the OIC were reactivated and an invitation was extended to the OIC secretary general to visit Suriname. Turkey was also on the radar, as Bouterse looked to diversify Suriname’s economic partners and financial backers. This move was supported by Turkish ambassador to Suriname, Ersin Ercin, who is based in Brasilia. Ercin visited Suriname several times to facilitate Bouterse’s quest to consolidate ties with Turkey.
Bouterse sent Suriname’s Vice President Robert Ameerali to Turkey in March this year, when the two countries signed bilateral agreements. After this successful visit, Suriname appointed presidential advisor, Liakat Alibux, ambassador to Turkey. On another front, Suriname’s consul general in Amsterdam, Roy Erwin Lieuwasie, who vested Turkey on a trade mission in May, is working to bring investors to Suriname from Turkey and from the Netherlands where there is a large Turkish community.
Soon the two countries, according to the foreign minister of Suriname, Winston Lackin, will finalize several agreements in the area of trade and investment, visa abolition and an open skies policy.
These developments have brought presidential advisor Winston Caldeira and a delegation from Suriname to Mugla, Turkey, this week, where he is negotiating several investment and trade agreements. Discussion between the Surinamese and Turkish delegations have centered on energy, wood and agriculture sectors.
Caldeira is the head of the newly created Investment and Development Corporation of Suriname (IDCS).
Last week, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) vice-president, Birama Sidibe, was in Suriname to inaugurate an interim member country partnership strategy (MCPS) for Suriname (2014 -2015), signaling a major shift towards the consolidation of ties between Suriname and the IsDB since Paramaribo joined the bank in 1997.
According to a release from the Central Bank of Suriname, under the interim MCPS, the IsDB will provide support in four major areas namely: i) healthcare services; ii) skills development / vocational training; iii) sea transportation (i.e. rehabilitation and expansion of the New Nickerie Seaport through dredging and construction of warehousing facilities); and iv) institutional capacity building including cyber security.
"The economic growth of Suriname is impressive," said the vice president of the IsDB, Birama Boubacar Sidibe, "but we want to help you to manage the economy better."
Prior to this visit, the OIC secretary general, Dr Ekmeleddin Ishanoglu, visited Suriname in May, becoming the first OIC secretary general to do so.
Turkey is also a member of the IsDB and a strong voice of support for Suriname in this grouping of about 56 countries.