By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname – The foreign minister of Suriname, Yldiz Pollack-Beighle, was in Ghana last week to open her country’s first embassy in Africa since the closure of its mission in South Africa.
The embassy was opened in Accra, Ghana, the ancestral home of many Surinamese. Citizens of all African countries can now apply for the Suriname E-Visa or E-Tourist card to enter the country.
Suriname requires a visa for citizens of all African countries and has promised that “the embassy would promote cultural exchanges and visits for tourists via e-visa and e-tourist card.”
Ethnic ties between Suriname and Ghana date back to the transatlantic slave trade era but there are little economic and cultural exchanges between these two countries. Ghanaian languages are still spoken in Suriname and Ghanaian customs and tradition outside of Ghana have survived in Suriname.
Suriname vice president, Michael Ashwin Adhin, who was also in Accra for the inaugural ceremony on Tuesday, said: “These strong bonds ensure that we are entering into a new phase of expanding political, economic as well as trade relations on the basis of mutual interest and benefit, to further the development of our peoples.
“Suriname is rich in gold, bauxite and prospects of huge deposits of oil and gas; rainforest with an abundance of fresh water for farming and ecotourism. He called on Ghana to take up these opportunities for trade, investment, partnerships and job creation. However, the lack of maritime and air transportation between the two countries make this dream highly impossible and especially the need for a visa between the two countries doesn’t help develop trade and tourism relations,” he noted.
The foreign minister of Ghana, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, promised to expand bilateral relations and open an embassy in Suriname.
The two countries signed four agreements on political consultations; visa exemption for diplomatic and service passport holders; a roadmap for cooperation and a letter of intent for cooperation and collaboration in the field of diplomacy and international relations.
“We may be divided by the Atlantic Ocean, but we are one and the same people with a common heritage,” Botchwey said.