Suriname Foreign Minister Winston Lackin (R) meets with United Arab Emirates (UAE) Minister of State Nadia Verjee
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
NEW YORK, USA -- In an effort to restart ties with the Islamic world, Suriname’s President Desi Bouterse met with the secretary general of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr Ihsanoglu last year on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. This momentum hasn’t waned. On Friday in New York, Suriname’s foreign minister, Winston Lackin, pushed his government’s renewed call to expand economic and political cooperation with the Middle East when he met Ihsanoglu and senior strategist of the Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Nadia Verjee at the sidelines of the 67th UN General Assembly, where he sought stronger economic cooperation with the UAE.
When Bouterse took office in Suriname two years ago, there were some changes in foreign policy. South to South cooperation became the cornerstone of this policy shift. He stressed the importance of South to South cooperation in an effort to diversify Suriname’s economic ties. Ties with Brazil, India, China, South Africa and Indonesia were pushed to new levels.
“South to South cooperation is very much in line with the thinking and the policies of the current administration,” said Suriname’s Ambassador to the UN, Henry MacDonald.
He added, “Suriname is pursuing stronger ties with UNASUR, ECLAC as well.”
On Friday, Lackin had a busy schedule on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. He also held a bilateral meeting with Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timmerman. The two countries signed a technical cooperation agreement.
“The technical cooperation agreement with Argentina will, among others benefits, result in the establishment of an embassy of Argentina later this year in Paramaribo,” said MacDonald.
Given the mandate from his president to solicit more investments from the UAE, the Surinamese foreign minister met with Verjee on Friday. According to MacDonald, “The meeting focused on the strengthening of economic ties between the two countries. Dubai port is already in Suriname and now we are looking at different opportunities to build on this success story.”
Moving away from its dependency on Holland and the European Union (EU) became more urgent after the Hague unleashed a public policy to delegitimize Bouterse, and some extremist elements in the Dutch government demanded that Suriname end its membership in the OIC to receive an outstanding 8 million Euros left as part of an independence financial package that the former colonial power signed with Suriname in 1975.