By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
PARAMARIBO, Suriname – Retno Marsudi became the first Indonesian foreign minister to visit Suriname after 26 years. Marsudi who is in Suriname for three days is holding meetings with the foreign minister of Suriname Yldiz Pollack-Beighle, President Bouterse, the private sector, and the Indonesian community who make up 15 percent of Suriname’s population.
The Indonesian diplomat met with his counter-part Pollack-Beighle and agreed to strengthen economic cooperation.
“With the provision and special historical and cultural relations, it is very natural for Indonesia and Suriname to strengthen bilateral relations in various fields, especially the economy and development,” Retno said.
Marsudi said that Indonesia would cooperate with Suriname in infrastructure development, mining, energy, Islamic banking and animal husbandry. In the field of animal husbandry, Indonesia has committed to collaborate in artificial livestock insemination with Suriname.
“Indonesia expressed its interest in participating in infrastructure development projects in Suriname, including projects that were funded by the Islamic Development Bank,” said Retno.
Indonesia also affirms its commitment to help Suriname in developing Islamic banking. Bank Indonesia has sent a team to Suriname to provide training in regulation and supervision of Islamic banking the Indonesian diplomat said.
“Cooperation in the field of Islamic banking is one of the potentials for cooperation. In this context, Bank Mandiri Syariah has supported efforts to increase capacity in the field of risk management and sharia accounting,” Retno said.
Through a South-South cooperation, reverse linkage, between Suriname, Indonesia and the Islamic Development Bank, these projects are being executed. A draft technical agreement is planned to be signed in the first half of 2019.
The visit to Suriname was of extraordinary symbolism because of historical ties between Suriname and Indonesia that dates back to 1890, when Indonesians from the Island of Java began arriving in Suriname as indentured workers.
While in Suriname, Marsudi met with the Suriname-Indonesian community who are thriving in areas of business, arts, politics and culture. She also visited the Muslim community since it’s now Ramadhan.
“I appreciated very much their untiring role in maintaining and promoting Javanese/Indonesian culture in Suriname. I also appreciated their role in promoting friendship between Indonesia and Suriname. I dad a good opportunity to meet with Suriname-Javanese descendants in Paramaribo, Suriname,” Marsudi said.