The Netherlands and Suriname are closely linked

The Netherlands wants a businesslike but committed relationship with Suriname, foreign minister Uri Rosenthal said in a meeting with the House of Representatives.

The former colony, independent since 1975, remains important to the Netherlands, which is home to around 350,000 people of Surinamese origin. The two countries have a shared history dating back three centuries, and their peoples speak the same language. ‘The Netherlands and Suriname are closely linked’.

Speaking of the agreement signed by the two countries concerning the assignment of nationality and the movement of persons, Mr Rosenthal said that a deal was a deal, and that Suriname must abide by the agreement.

The Netherlands wants to continue working with Suriname in areas of shared interest, like transport and trade. Cooperation will also continue in areas like security, justice and the economy.

Only the most necessary contact will be maintained with President Desi Bouterse, who was sentenced in the Netherlands to 11 years’ imprisonment on a charge of drug trafficking. He is also the main suspect in the court case concerning the ‘December murders’, the assassination of opponents of military rule in Fort Zeelandia, Paramaribo, in 1982. These two cases place a constraint on relations between the Netherlands and Suriname. The Surinamese government will be judged on its actions.

Development relationship
When Suriname gained its independence, the Netherlands pledged the sum of €1.6 billion in aid. That money has almost been spent; relations will now continue on a different footing, international cooperation minister Ben Knapen said. The Netherlands is phasing out its traditional development ties with Suriname and is establishing a special relationship in their place. Mr Knapen plans to explore scope for setting up a new twinning facility to promote contact, in the light of the very close social ties between the Dutch and the Surinamese.

However, some financial assistance will still be provided to specific regional development projects, like the Guyana Shield Initiative, designed to protect the Guyana Shield eco-region, which stretches from Colombia in the west to Brazil in the east, encompassing parts of Venezuela and all of Guyana, French Guyana and Suriname, and which contains around 25% of the world’s remaining primary tropical forest.