November 25 marks the 46th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Suriname. What do we know about the bilateral interaction of this South American country with Russia? What areas of cooperation is the Russian Foreign Ministry developing with Suriname?
The Republic of Suriname, with a population of 586 634 people (data for 2020), with an area of 163 265 sq. km, located in South America and occupies its northeastern part. The capital of the country is Paramaribo. In the west there is a border with Guyana, in the east Suriname is adjacent to French Guiana, in the south it borders with Brazil. Previously, this South American country was a colony of the Netherlands and was named Netherlands Guiana, but in 1975 declared its independence.
Diplomatic relations between the USSR and Suriname were established on the day of the proclamation of the independence of this South American country – November 25, 1975. In the early years, bilateral interaction was carried out through the USSR Embassy in Colombia. In April 1982, the Soviet Embassy was opened in Paramaribo. In the 1980s, relations between states were carried out at the level of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and the National Assembly of Suriname. In March 1990, a delegation of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR paid an official visit to Suriname.
On April 10, 1990, Stasis Obukauskas, Second Secretary and Consul of the Soviet Union, was found shot dead in a South American state. According to police, the day before he left Paramaribo in a car, heading along the Kennedy Highway to the International Airport Johan Adolf Pengel. Police officers found him dead, with 3 bullet wounds to the head, in a ditch. Two days later, on April 12, the police detained three men who took part in the murder of the diplomat, apparently also connected with the robbery: they attempted to sell Obukauskas’ car. The men admitted their guilt.
Developed by the Soviet Union in the 1980s, the project of importing bauxite, palm oil and tea from Suriname and exporting “Lada” cars to this country remained unfulfilled.
After the collapse of the USSR on January 3, 1992, Suriname announced the recognition of the Russian Federation as a successor state. In 1995, the work of the Russian Embassy was suspended for financial reasons.
In 1999, representatives of the Surinamese intelligence held talks in Moscow with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. In 2000, in honor of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Russia and Suriname Igor Ivanov and Maria Elizabeth (Marie) Levens exchanged letters of congratulation.
In 2003, the President of Suriname Ronald Venetiaan (Dutch – Ronald Runaldo Venetiaan) approved the Russian draft Protocol on inter-ministerial consultations, signed on September 17 of the same year within the framework of the 57th session of the UN General Assembly. In the same year, a delegation of the “Russian Aluminum” company with its General Director Oleg Deripaska paid a visit to Paramaribo.
January 15, 2014 the Ambassador of the South American state in Russia V.E. Christopher presented copies of his credentials to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. On January 20-24, 2015, the former Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Brazil Sergey Akopov made a working trip to Suriname, who met with a number of ministers, the executive director of the company “Staatsolie” Marc Waaldijk and the professor of the University of Suriname S. Naipal
Currently, the Ambassador of Russia in Suriname concurrently (with permanent residence in Brasilia, Brazil) – Alexey K. Labetsky, by the Decrees of the President of the Russian Federation dated January 28, 2021 No. 53 and dated February 26, 2021 No. 117, was appointed Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Concurrent Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Republic of Suriname. The Chargé d’affaires of Suriname to Russia concurrently (with permanent residence in Brussels, Belgium) – Milton Castelin (after the final departure of Ambassador V.E. Christopher in December 2015). In July 2017, an influential Surinamese entrepreneur, former managing director of the state oil company “Staatsolie”, Marinus Cornelis Hubert “Mark” Waaldejk, was appointed Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation in Paramaribo with the assignment of a consular district – the entire territory of Suriname.
In recent years, Russian-Surinamese relations have acquired new dynamics. This was facilitated by a number of significant events. One of them is the first-ever visit in the history of bilateral relations by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Suriname, Yldiz Deborah Pollack-Beighle, to Russia in October 2017, as well as the signing of two fundamental documents that form the basis of bilateral cooperation – the Treaty on Basic Relations and the Intergovernmental Agreement on the conditions for refusing visa formalities for mutual trips of citizens of two countries.
At the moment, prospects are outlined for the implementation of joint projects in such sectors as agriculture, geological exploration and mining, shipbuilding, infrastructure and energy. The issue of cooperation in the field of professional training and advanced training of police and firefighters, employees of units for combating drug trafficking is being worked out; in addition, the possibilities of student exchanges are being discussed. Citizens of Suriname are annually allocated a quota for studying in Russian universities at the expense of the federal budget under the programs of the Federal Agency for the Commonwealth of Independent States “Rossotrudnichestvo”.
Today, the Russian Foreign Ministry regards Suriname as an important partner in the development of multifaceted cooperation with the states of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Russia and Suriname interact very closely on multilateral platforms, primarily within the framework of the UN. The Russian side is ready to expand foreign policy coordination based on international law, which again emphasizes Russia’s position on the consistent strengthening of a politically united and economically stable Latin America. According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, only under this condition will the region be able to establish itself as one of the pillars of a multipolar world order.